Till he trounced the Gowda family daughter-in-law, Anitha Kumaraswamy in the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha bypoll, Mr D.K. Suresh was a behind- the- scenes kind of politician, happy to be in the shadow of his brother and minister, D.K. Shivakumar. Having tasted victory, however, he is now looking for another term in parliament from the constituency this LS poll. Once seen as a rustic Kanakapura boy, his Delhi experience has polished him, turning him into a shrewd, but polite politician. While conceding that the surgical strikes against terror camps in Pakistan and national security have become greater poll issues than development this poll, he believes he will once again sail through and argues that PM Modi is more feared than loved as a leader. He spoke of this and more in an interview with Vinay Madhav. Excerpts:
Unlike the triangular fight of the last election, this time it is a direct fight between the Congress and BJP in Bengaluru Rural. How will this impact your chances?
As far as Ramanagar district is concerned, there will be no change. As the Congress and JD(S) have come together, it will help us. However, in urban constituencies, there will be a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP, which we may have to deal with differently. Traditionally, Ramanagar district had only two forces, the JD(S) and Congress and the other force was restricted to only Chennapattana (C P Yogeshwar). Since it has merged with the BJP, it is back to square one.
There has been a lot of confusion between the coalition partners over seat sharing and other issues. Do you feel it will hamper the chances of the coalition candidates?
As far as Bengaluru Rural is concerned, there is no such confusion. We have held joint meetings of JD(S) and Congress leaders and shared the (election) work. There is clarity among workers and leaders of both parties.
The election nationwide seems to be about “Modi in or out.” Is it any different in your constituency?
It is the same everywhere, including our constituency. Nobody is talking about the developmental work of the Modi government or Central or state policies, and if they have helped people. The one point agenda is just Modi. We are trying to talk about the failures of the Modi government, which has failed to reach out to the rural people. Urban voters , who had a lot of expectations, have also received nothing from him whether in Bengaluru or elsewhere. He keeps chanting the name of Bengaluru, but has no love for it, or any intention of developing it. There has been no contribution from the Centre to Bengaluru. They say they are giving money for the Metro Rail and suburban train, but both projects are long pending and were not conceived by them. The state government also has a share in them. They spoke about Smart City and the Amrut project. But not one city has been developed in the country, not even in BJP- ruled states. At least, we have not come across it and if the media is aware of it, it should tell us.
What is the national scene today in your view?
At the national level, no one loves the Modi government. But he is feared for his dictatorial attitude. Everyone is fed up. Security and issues of nationalism are, however, the focus of these elections, especially in the aftermath of recent events. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the nation and he has done that. Even if a common man had become Prime Minister, he would have done the same. It should not be made an election issue. Wars and surgical strikes have taken place earlier too, but no one used them as a political weapon and an election issue. Barring this, they don't have anything else on their poll agenda. Whatever promises they made, they have not kept.
What, according to you, should be the election issues today?
Look at Bengaluru. The number of people coming in search of jobs to it is falling as growth has slowed down and there are not as many industries. National policies should have helped accelerate development by infusing confidence among investors. They talk about the Make in India policy and while opposing FDI in the past, have allowed cent per cent FDI and even 50 per cent in institutions like the railways. However, no investor has come forward as no one is ready to invest based on their promises. The economy has slowed down and even former RBI Governor, Rangarajan has spoken of the country’s financial status and GDP growth. Intelligent people should make a decision based on this.
Has the opposition tried to make people aware of this?
It is the media, that should be doing this. However, it has become one- sided and is blindly praising Modi. I am not sure if Mr Modi is making the media praise him or if it is doing it of its own volition. In every state, Mr Modi is being marketed. There is a thin line between advertisement and promotion. People are getting influenced through television . We are trying to reach people through our workers. But it is hard to reach out to everyone.
Is the Mahaghatbandhan helping the anti-Modi team?
In Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress coming together is helping to a big extent. This is true of other states too where regional parties are strong. Yes, there is some confusion. But during ticket distribution, every political party, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, has problems and later things settle down. Similarly, all the confusion among the Mahaghatbhandan leaders will be sorted out after the election results are declared.