Bengaluru: Thirty six-year-old Ganesh Hukkeri of the Congress party will be facing his first big political test in Chikkodi-Sadalga assembly segment in the bypolls scheduled for August 21. Son of Prakash Hukkeri, five-time MLA and sitting MP of Chikkodi, Mr Ganesh entered politics at a young age and became director of Halsiddanath Sugar Factory of Nipani in 2002.
Besides being member of Belgaum ZP for the last nine years, Ganesh is associated with the cooperative sector as director of District Credit and Cooperative Bank and Karnataka Sugar Corporation.
An MBA graduate, he always wanted to be a political leader assisting his father in politics since his school days. He was involved in the election campaigns since 1994 and accompanied his father during the previous five Assembly election and two Lok Sabha polls.
Although, he will be one of the youngest legislators in the Assembly in case he wins, he is confident that his political background will help him lead from the front in his constituency.
As he observes, his father would have been a better MLA than an MP as he is aware of every problem faced by people of Chikkodi-Sadalga.
For the same reason, Ganesh did try to convince his father to remain an MLA but did not succeed.
In the midst of his hectic campaign, Mr Ganesh spoke to Deccan Chronicle about his campaign. Excerpts:
You are a second generation politician in your family. What are your advantages and disadvantages?
As I hail from a political family, I have more advantages than disadvantages. The door-to-door campaign which I took up during the previous five Assembly elections and my father have taught me a lot.
I also toured the Chikkodi Lok Sabha constituency during the last two general elections. Because of the political experience I gained, I was able to become director of Halsiddanath Sugar Factory of Khanapur when I was merely 24-years-old.
How many of the promises made in the 2013 assembly elections have been fulfilled by your father?
He would not have won five consecutive times as MLA and the last Lok Sabha election had he not fulfilled most of the promises he made to his voters. In my view, he has fulfilled most of the assurances he made which includes getting a major portion of the agriculture land under irrigation. More than 70 per cent of the green land in Chikkodi-Sadalga has already been brought under irrigation for which my father has worked tirelessly during the last two decades.
Was this bypoll actually needed? Don't you think it was thrust on people?
The party needed a powerful and able leader for the Lok Sabha election from Chikkodi. My father decided to sacrifice the minister’s seat respecting the party high command’s order to face the Lok Sabha election. Even though, my father was a sitting legislator, the people of the constituency voted him to victory.
There is a strong buzz that another politically influential family-the Kattis-are backing you.
It is absolutely to wrong to establish a link between our families when we are facing elections. The support of people of this constituency for my family is so strong that even the Narendra Modi wave could not help the BJP defeat my father in the Lok Sabha election. The constituency has been a stronghold of the Congress party for many decades now. Not only did my father win five times as MLA, many other party leaders in the past have created records. Former minister B Shankaranand of the Congress won seven times as MP from Chikkodi.
What is your USP?
It is only ‘development’ and nothing else. I want to give more stress on having projects and programmes to generate employment for the unemployed youth if I win as an MLA.
Liquor is being distributed rampantly ahead of polls in your constituency. Who do you blame for it?
I am busy with my campaign every day. There is no need for me or my party to indulge in such activities to attract voters. I am unaware of liquor being distributed. The people of my constituency should not be misled by anybody through such tactics.