HASSAN: Former minister A Manju, who recently joined the BJP, is taking on H D Deve Gowda’s grandson Prajwal Revanna in the JD(S) bastion of Hassan. Undeterred by Gowda’s support base in the Vokkaliga-dominated constituency, Manju, who is busy campaigning in the district, says, he is fighting against ‘family politics’ and is confident of winning.
“People are fed-up of family politics and they will surely bless me. I request the Election Commission to take necessary measures to ensure that people vote without any fear or favour,” he told in an interview with The New Indian Express. Excerpts.
What are your chances of winning?
Over 70 per cent of voters in Hassan are against the Deve Gowda family, and we have to consolidate them to win the elections. In 2014, when I contested against Gowda, the margin of victory was reduced to 1 lakh from 3.5 lakh in 2009. I am confident of winning as people want Modi to be back as the Prime Minister again.
Do you think local Congress leaders will support you?
I will get over 70 percent of votes from the Congress. When I contested in 2014 elections, I was only an MLA. After that I worked as a minister and proved myself by taking up pro-people works and also by increasing the number of Congress Zilla Panchayat members from just two to 16. The Hassan ZP is now controlled by the Congress.
Do you think Vokkaliga community will back you?
While they (Gowda family) claim they are Vokkaliga leaders, I am a secular person and don’t want to claim be a leader of the Vokkaliga community. I am sure the community will support me. The JD(S) leaders support elements that pelted stones at BJP MLA Preetham Gowda’s house in Hassan. When there is no security for even an elected MLA, imagine the plight of ordinary people. I am fighting against the feudal system in Hassan to restore democracy.
How important is the Modi factor in this election?
Modi is a big factor across India. Congress voters will also be comfortable to vote for BJP in the district as I am the candidate, considering I was in the Congress earlier. I toured the district extensively and sought people’s advice before taking the decision to join the BJP and contest elections. People assured me of their unequivocal support. In fact, I had started working on it since the Mandya bypolls, around six months ago, as I knew the Congress would end up giving the constituency to the JD(S).
Do you subscribe to the BJP ideology?
National interest is paramount for the BJP. Even Congress is a party that works for the national interest, but the JD(S) is a family party without any ideology.
You are accused of being an opportunist for changing parties?
The party had given me everything, but I had to do it because of the current situation. In the future, if Congress and JD(S) go together, there is no future for Congress workers.
Do you think Siddaramaiah let you down?
Siddaramaiah is the CLP leader and I am thankful to him. I did justice to the party when they made me the minister. We lost assembly elections because of the loan waiver promise by the JD(S). I had told our party leaders to give Hassan to Deve Gowda, but retain Mandya so that Congress survives in the Old Mysore region.