Tejasvi Surya, the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Parliamentarian from Bengaluru South, appears to have miffed the aggrieved depositors of the controversial Sri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Sahakara Bank Niyamitha (SGRCSBN) in Basavanagudi. The area is a part of his constituency .

Surya faced their wrath at a meeting on Sunday where he, as the BJP candidate, was hoping to gain his constituents’ support for yet another term in the Lok Sabha.

Instead, he was heckled by the depositors who had lost their hard earned money when the bank came under the scanner. According to the depositors, Surya had promised to help them in getting their money back.

This promise was reportedly made while Surya was campaigning with his uncle, R. Subramanya, during the Assembly polls last year. Last Sunday the MP and his uncle were seen arguing with the investors.

The two accused the investors of heckling them. Eventually, Surya had to be escorted out, much to the delight of the Congress which reportedly circulated a video of the event, showing the incumbent MP in poor light.

The BJP and the Congress lodged separate complaints with the Election Commission, against each other over the ruckus. Surya alleged that the rival party had “conspired” to disrupt his meeting, by “sending its supporters to disrupt the proceedings”.

In its complaint to the EC, the BJP claimed that “individuals associated with the Congress had forcefully entered the hall to disrupt its meeting; even pushing and shoving other participants”.

The Congress, on its part, charged that “Surya and his uncle had intimidated the depositors of the bank as they were asking some tough,inconvenient questions”.

Going by available information, the affected depositors wanted to know why Surya had not kept his promise to help revive the bank in about a month’s time. They were referring to assurances the MP reportedly gave while campaigning during last year’s Assembly polls, including that new investors were ready to invest in the bank .

They wanted answers from him, which led to the alleged heckling and disruption of the meeting. The Congress, however, alleged that many depositors were removed from the meeting.

Last December, the Siddaramaiah government had said, after handing over the probe into the bank’s affairs to the CBI, that thousands of depositors had invested their savings in the bank for their children’s marriage, or to be able to buy a house.

“Even when I was the Opposition leader earlier, I had raised my voice against the bank’s fraud and demanded a CBI probe to deliver justice to the depositors. I have seen the frustration and the agony of those who lost their money. Therefore, to ensure justice for all, we have decided to hand over the investigation to the CBI,” the Chief Minister had said.

The Enforcement Directorate, meanwhile, had attached the bank’s assets worth Rs 114 crore as part of its probe into the alleged scam.

Not surprisingly, considering the sensitive issue, the BJP is now feeling the heat. The Congress party is seeking to exploit what it claims “is an advantage for it in Bengaluru South.”

Three Former CMs In The Fray

Three former chief ministers have thrown their hats into the poll ring, hoping to represent the state as MPs from Karnataka. They are: H. D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal-Secular, Basvaraj Bommai and Jagdish Shettar of the BJP. The two parties have come together to fight the Congress this time.

Kumaraswamy will contest from Mandya, a major Vokkaliga belt. Bommai will contest from Haveri, and Shettar will contest from Belagavi. Kumaraswamy first entered Parliament in 1996 from Kanakpura and again in 2009 from Bengaluru Rural .

Shettar had returned to BJP, his parent party, this January, just before the Lok Sabha polls were announced. He had earlier ditched the BJP on the eve of the Assembly polls, last year. He had done that because he was not given a ticket to contest the local polls.

Shettar’s departure proved to be a major setback for the BJP, as he was influential among his community, the Lingayats. Ironically though, Shettar failed to get the support from the voters in the Hubli-Dharwad Assembly segment while contesting on a Congress ticket in 2023.

Bommai, on his part, is fighting the Parliamentary polls a year after losing power in 2023 Assembly polls in which the Congress romped home with a sizeable majority. The BJP government under him faced corruption charges, particularly by the builders’ lobby which accused his ministers of seeking “40 percent commission for getting contracts”.

Bommai took over reins of the BJP government after the party forced B.S. Yediyurappa, to step down as CM because he had crossed 75 years of age. This is the age at which the BJP seeks to retire its stalwarts from active politics. At least, this was the reason that the former CM was given, by his bosses in New Delhi.

The BJP, had to pay a heavy price in the 2023 Assembly polls for easing out Yediyurappa and Shettar. The two stalwarts had built the party from scratch in the state.

The BJP lost the 2023 polls as the Lingayats, the party’s strong vote bank, did not like the “disrespect shown to their community leaders Yediyurappa and Shettar.”

Meanwhile, it is learnt that in the event the BJP and its NDA allies do succeed in regaining power at the Centre, Bommai may be in the next Modi Cabinet.

It is not uncommon for former CMs from the state to contest Parliamentary polls and become MPs. Out of 23 former CMs, almost 16 were ex-Parliamentarians. However, despite their popularity in the state, at least five CMs failed to make it to the Lok Sabha.

Deve Gowda, who was the state’s CM in 1996, went on to become the country’s Prime Minister between June 1996 and April 1997. This was after the Congress had lost in the 1996 Lok Sabha polls, and the subsequent fall of the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government as it could not gain the confidence of the House at that time.

Gowda, who called himself “an accidental PM,” had subsequently claimed that the post should have actually gone to the Left stalwart, Jyoti Basu, but it landed in his lap.