BENGALURU: The new Home Minister, Ramalinga Reddy, has a tough task ahead of him. From maintaining law and order in the election year to bringing some order on the chaotic city roads, it will be Herculean task.
He asserted that he may be a soft-spoken person, but his decisions will be tough. On the perception that he may not be able to take decisions independently in the Home department, Reddy said anyone can give him advice, but he will make the decisions. Experts from an interview:
Are you satisfied with your work as Transport Minister?
Very much. I was Transport Minister for four years and three months and we were recognised nationally and internationally. Even Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said we are number one.
If I had some more time, it
would have been taken to the next level.
Did you expect that you will be given the Home portfolio?
Never in my career had I thought I will get this portfolio. After Parameshwara’s resignation, the portfolio was with Chief Minister Siddaramiah. As CM, he cannot devote all his time to the Home ministry. I am from Bengaluru and I will be available here all the time. I have been minister for 23 years in my 28-year political career. I have been minister in the Veerappa Moily, Dharam Singh, S M Krishna and Siddaramaiah cabinets, but Home department is new to me.
Did you ask for the Home portfolio?
No, I did not ask. The CM has seen me working and chose me for this job. Though there was talk for the last two months that some of my other colleagues may be considered, the CM informed me about his choice last week. Also, none of the departments where I worked got any bad name. This could also be one of the reasons for choosing me. I will not disappoint them. When I contested the Assembly election for the first time, I did not ask for a ticket. It was the people who suggested that I be given a chance. Veerappa Moily called me and gave the ticket. I never asked for it.
You are a soft-spoken person, how will you handle Home department?
I might be soft-spoken and speak less too, but my deeds and decisions are strong. People close to me know if I take a decision, I will not step back at any cost.
A soft voice has nothing to do with being Home minister. Even Lal Bahadur Shastri and Manmohan Singh were soft spoken. We all know how much work they have done.
Your views on policing...
I have been MLA for many years. Whenever a police inspector comes to my constituency, I tell them to instill fear among criminals. Fear alone can bring down the crime rate by 50 per cent. A similar mechanism will be used for Bengaluru and the state.
There is a perception that Kempaiah, the adviser to the Home Minister, is a shadow Home Minister...
I have experience and knowledge to take decisions on my own. Suggestions can come from any person -- public, opposition parties and even media, but my decision will be final. All I can say is I am not a rubber stamp. Siddaramaiah has given full freedom to all his ministers. He will not interfere in any of the decisions taken by his ministers. There are solutions to all problems, all we need is determination to make the right decisions. Siddaramaiah will support us in our decisions.
Do you need an adviser?
Kempaiah is adviser to the state government and Home department, but not to Ramalinga Reddy. I will take any good advice from anyone, including Kempaiah
Does it mean Ramalinga Reddy will not abide by Kempaiah’s words?
If suggestions are good, anyone can make them, including Kempaiah. Even a citizen can give me suggestions and advice. I am stepping into the Home department now, give me sometime and you will see my work. I have my plans and strategies I will reveal in coming days.
Ahead of the Assembly election, tension in the coastal region is expected to increase. How will you tackle it?
During or before election time, such tensions will arise, but we need to be extra careful. We have experienced and good police officers to tackle the issue. I cannot reveal everything now. When the time comes, we will do it. I will take it as a challenge and proceed. This is a democracy, so in such times we will also seek cooperation from the opposition parties. If any person or organisation involves in anti-social activities or disturbs peace, he will not be spared irrespective of political links.
Do you suggest a revamp of the Intelligence department?
That is not with me, it comes under the CM. He will decide.
The orderly system still exists in the state police force. Will you put an end to it?
I have been minister for Education as well as Transport where there are lakhs of employees. There were problems. I am sure I can manage this as well.
There should be an end to the orderly system. A decision in
this regard had been taken, which should be implemented. I am not in favour of the orderly system.
Do you feel there may be some dissension over giving the Home ministry to you?
As far as I know, no one is unhappy. I do not have any enemies within or outside the party. Despite this, if there is any opposition, we cannot do anything. If the opposition is for people’s welfare, it is okay.
Some BJP leaders say it may be difficult for you to handle the Home department...
Let them wait and watch my work. When I can handle every other portfolio, I can handle Home too. It just needs common sense. If we work effectively, the public, the CM, the party high command and even opposition party members will recognise you.
What will be your major challenges?
Maintaining law and order and ensuring peace. With elections ahead, handling the law and order situation in the coastal region will be a major challenge.
Will there will be any transfers of officers?
Why? There’s no need for it now. We can work with the same set of people. Unless they are not capable or make mistakes, we will not transfer.
What about Bengaluru’s traffic?
The number of vehicles is increasing by the day. Roads need to be widened. I have just taken over. We will do it in the coming days.
What are your plans for
I will be visiting all divisions across the state and discuss with the officials. I will take advice from my predecessor, but I have my own set of ideas.