A novice in politics, Preetham Gowda (37) was successful in breaking into the Janata Dal (Secular) bastion of Hassan and registering a rare win for the BJP in the district. Preetham defeated his nearest rival and JD(S) nominee H.S. Prakash who had won the Hassan assembly seat four times. It was a triangular fight with the JD(S), Congress and BJP nominees in the fray but it later turned out to be a direct fight between the JD(S) and BJP which the BJP won by a comfortable margin. The last time the BJP won the seat was in 1999. Here are excerpts from an interview with newly elected MLA Preetham Gowda.
Were you confident of winning the seat at the time of entering the fray?
I had said at the time of filing of my nomination that my victory margin would be around 15,000 votes. But, the margin fell short by 1,200 and I ended up getting 13,800 votes more than H.S. Prakash of JD(S).
What factors led to your victory?
I have worked for about four years collecting garbage from about 25,000 families in the constituency, supplying water to families at an average of 250 tanker loads of water per day, providing third party insurance to autorickshaw drivers for about 2,500 of them and renovating temples, spending from my pocket. All these worked in my favour.
You entered the fray for the first time. What was going on in your mind?
It never occurred to me that I was contesting for the first time. I believe in service oriented politics, put in a lot of hard work and the organisational strength of the party too worked for me.
What was the response of voters during your campaign in the constituency?
There was a feeling that they were looking for change. They were looking for development oriented change and I was given a chance to serve them being a youngster.
What would be your priorities being an MLA?
To make Hassan roads pothole free, ensure adequate drinking water supply to residents and dust free streets will be my top priorities. Besides, creation of job opportunities for youth of the district will also be among my priorities.