Q&A: Last-minute pick, knew nothing about Tejasvi\'s selection, says Ravi Subramanya

Subramanya said, KPCC, it has shown, it has no guts to fight election on issues, so they indulge in blackmail tactics.

Ravi Subramanya, third time MLA from Basavanagudi shot to prominence this week after the surprise nomination of his nephew Tejasvi Surya as the BJP candidate for Bengaluru South. A long time acolyte of Ananth Kumar, the former MP from Bangalore South, and with close links to Ananth Kumar’s wife Tejaswini, who was widely expected to be nominated, Mr Subramanya said that he was still grieving over the loss of his mentor, and that despite what is widely believed, he had no role to play in the selection of his 28 year old nephew for Bengaluru. “I was taken completely by surprise as I had proposed Tejaswini madam’s name. Tejasvi Surya’s nomination was not prompted by me. It was purely a decision taken by party leaders at the centre,” he told BHASKAR HEGDE. Excerpts of his interview.

You are the protege of Ananth Kumar
No doubt about it. I am proud to say it - I am his protege.

However there’s an impression gaining ground that in spite of late Ananth Kumar nurturing you in public life, you betrayed him by quietly pushing your nephew’s candidature for Bengaluru South.
In the very first meeting held at party office, I was the one who enthusiastically batted for her candidature. In fact, I said we should expect a bigger margin of victory in Tejaswini madam’s case than what even Ananth Kumar polled last time. Everyone in the party office heard my speech. Whenever her name came up for discussion, I was extremely clear that there should not be any other name other than hers for Bengaluru South.

“It may sound odd when I say this, that I’m sharing all these details with you. But I was so shocked and upset after Ananth Kumar’s death and it took me more than two months to recover. On the day of Shivaratri, I was the one who accompanied Tejaswini madam to various temples till 2 am that morning. Two days before the announcement of Tejasvi’s candidature, I even took her to various parks and we planted saplings. In fact, she has said ‘Ravi Subramanya stood by her’. If I had known of his (Tejaswi’s) nomination, wouldn’t I have made preparations? Instead, on the last day, we had to literally scramble to get account details, voter lists, all the paperwork needed to file nomination papers. We were shocked when they announced Tejasvi’s name. The day after the announcement of his name, Tejaswini madam herself said, ‘Nation First, Party next, I lost,’ Some people outside the organization have tried to create confusion. But, my love and affection towards Ananth Kumar and his family is there and will not diminish in future.

“And today I would like to disclose one more thing for the first time. Before I became MLA, I had gone to Ananth Kumar and requested him to give me an opportunity, just this once. Just before the 2018 assembly elections, I had gone to him again, and said, ‘You gave me the opportunity twice. If you have anyone else in mind, you can propose his or her name, I do not mind’. He told me to keep quiet and said ‘I want to see you in a different place’. Even today, I am a worker of Adamya Chethana Trust (run by Tejaswini Ananth Kumar) and I continue to work for them in future. So, I was taken completely by surprise. Because even till late that night, the leaders had been asking me to stand, which I was reluctant to do. Tejaswi Surya’s nomination was not prompted by me. It was purely a decision taken by party leaders at the centre.

Is it possible to launch him and introduce him to the voter at such short notice?
The Corporation (BBMP) election is different from assembly election and assembly election is different from LS polls. We don’t wait for the announcement of candidates. For over two months, fans of Narendra Modi, our parivar people have been working on the ground. Our motto is: to bring back Modi government. In Parliament election, you can’t visit every house or one lakh voters per day. We use Whats App, Face Book and we try to reach them.

Going by caste calculation, you have a major disadvantage in BTM Layout, Bommanahalli and Vijayanagara?
We do not calculate caste in Parliament election. People from Bengaluru do not go by caste sentiment in elections. When Ananth Kumar became MP first time, he was just 35. If Kumar had not been fielded then, he would not have given such a huge contribution to the country. Dalits, Vokkaligas, Yadavs, OBC people keep coming to us. They are coming to us in large number and telling us, ‘this boy is like our child, he should be elected.”

KPCC women wing petitioned the State Women Commission against Tejasvi Surya. What is your reaction?
I think one has to understand about what life is like when you are student. That should be kept aside. As for the KPCC, it has shown, it has no guts to fight election on issues, so they indulge in blackmail tactics. The court has given a clear order and it is clear about blackmail. The lady whose name was brought in too has given a clarification. She said don’t use this, but still KPCC is using it. The court said anti-propaganda should be stopped. I know who is behind this campaign. We will expose them, but not now. KPCC’s attempt to blackmail and play dirty politics will not work here, in this election.

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