Bengaluru: Dr Siddaramaiah, the BJP candidate for the Mandya Lok Sabha bypoll is no newcomer to politics. His father was elected as MLA from two different assembly constituencies in Mandya district in the past. Politics flows in his veins and the retired IRS officer is hoping that the lotus will finally bloom in the sugar bowl of Karnataka. Dr Siddaramaiah spoke to Deccan Chronicle on the positive response he has been getting from people in his home district. Here are excerpts from the interview.
How has the people's response been to your campaign in a Vokkaliga dominated district where the Janata Dal (Secular) has an upper hand?
So far, the response has been very good. People are coming out in large numbers for the campaign. The electorate is fed up with both the Congress and JD(S) because of the dismal performance of its members in the Lok Sabha and want a change. I am no stranger to politics in Mandya, my father, B Doddabasavegowda got elected to the Legislative Assembly as an Independent from Srirangapatna in 1967 and as a Janata Party nominee from Mandya in 1983. People still remembers the good deeds of my father who used to go
from pillar to post to get the work of his constituency done. He used to travel in city buses in Bengaluru during the Assembly session. He was known for his simplicity, the goodwill he enjoyed and the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last four and a half years will come to my aid.
Two to three generations have gone by since your father got elected to the Assembly. Does it not indicate that you have lost touch with the people?Generations may have changed but the people of Mandya have not forgotten my dad's deeds. Oldtimers still recall their association with my father who had no hangover of any kind and maintained a good relationship with every voter. I accidentally joined government service and served in the Department of Commercial Taxes in various positions. Despite working in a Central government department, I got jobs for hundreds of youths and helped build temples and community halls in various villages. I used to spend my weekends in
villages in Mandya sharing the joy and sorrow of society. I have also worked as president of the Commercial Tax Department Officers Association. So far, I have visited 400-500 villages in my constituency. My native village, Yattagadahalli is situated two km away from Mandya city. I have hundreds of my friends and relatives in and around 400 villages working hard for my victory.
This time, the Congress and JD(S) have fielded a common candidate, L.R. Shivaramegowda, a former minister who hails from Nagamangala. Will it not affect your chances?
People are so fed up with Shivaramegowda that he has been defeated in all elections since 1997. A number of criminal cases are pending against him. Besides, he is a turncoat and has contested on all party tickets. The negative attitude towards the coalition candidate is the biggest plus point for me. Being educated, I can perform well as MP in the Lok Sabha and bring more funds for the development of this district. District Congress leaders are unhappy with the candidature of Mr Shivramegowda and may indirectly support the BJP by remaining neutral during the election campaign.
Is it true that state BJP leaders are not actively participating in your election campaign as all their attention is on Ballari and Shivamogga?
This is totally false. Already, State BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa and others have held one round of campaigning in the district. Former deputy chief minister, R Ashok was with me in the last one week. A number of leaders of the BJP in groups are touring the villages in the constituency.