Lingayat issue should be left to religious leaders: Eshwar Khandre

There is nothing like a Modi’s very superficial.

How do you see the fight between you and BJP’s Bhagwanth Khuba?
There is a straight fight...based on the inefficiency of the sitting MP and the failure of the BJP to fulfil the promises made in the last election, people have realised that the Congress is the party that can fulfil their aspirations. Due to my father’s contributions and my contributions as a three-time MLA and as the Minister for Municipal Administration, a lot of development works has happened in the constituency. I hope that people will take cognizance of my performance and bless me in this election.

In the previous election, the BJP candidate was a debutant and people voted for him in view of the Modi factor. Going by history, Bidar is a strong bastion of the BJP. Is the Modi wave working this time?
There is nothing like a Modi’s very superficial. The ground reality is totally different. People have undergone lot of suffering due to demonetisation, spiralling prices and unemployment. The BJP government did not do anything to alleviate their suffering.

The coalition government has failed to fulfil the promises made to farmers regarding waiver of their loans..
No, no it’s not true.. already 10-11 lakh farmers have benefitted and the process is on to complete the promise. By this December whatever promises were made, will be fulfilled. We have allocated funds in the budget.. what does it mean?

But you promised to waive off loans within 24 hours ...even after ten months the process is incomplete.
The elections are going on ..we can’t stick to the time may have been delayed due to technicalities. But we will fulfil the promises made.

Bidar district was the hotbed of the movement for separate Lingayat religion status. What impact will it have on your poll prospects? You had opposed the demand saying Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same.
I don’t want to comment on that. I have already made my stand clear that the Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same. I don’t understand why this issue is being raked up again and again. This should be left to religious leaders to handle, neither the party nor government should interefere in it.

But there is a feeling that the Congress has pushed the issue to the background because the party suffered a blow in the previous election. This has been admitted by your own party leaders.
Now it is a closed chapter, there is no discussion regarding that. Personally it is an emotional issue for me too and I don’t want to comment on it.

What is your view on the performance of BJP MP?
He is a total failure on all fronts..he has no experience, no commitment. He was a contractor before he became MP. He got elected due to the Modi wave last time. They promised to construct a memorial at Gorta (B) village in memory of those killed by the Razakars but it has not happened even after five years. The assurances to lay the railway pitline at Khanapur village in Bhalki taluk or build a civilian airport at Bidar have not been fulfilled. Does it not amount to cheating the people? He did not bring any Central government programmes to Bidar. There is zero contribution from Mr Khuba.

Muslims, who are in sizeable numbers in the constituency, are said to be unhappy as their claim to the poll ticket has not been considered.
It’s not true..see I did not aspire for the ticket, it’s the party high command which decided I’m the best candidate.

The Marathas have traditionally supported the BJP. Some local developments are said to have alienated them from you.
It’s not true. Just see the 2018 result in Bhalki Assembly seat. Marathas and Lingayats are in equal numbers in my constituency. I got a survey done, which showed that in most Maratha areas, I got a majority. The fact is that in five years, the developmental work I have done in the Maratha areas have brought in a radical change in their mindset. Whenever I visit the border areas of Maharashtra, they felicitate me for the exemplary work I have done.

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