The Nanjangud byelection may have come and gone but he still nurses a deep-rooted grouse against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and is waiting for the ‘sweet news’ of the CM’s defeat on May 15 when the Assembly poll results will be declared. Former minister and noted Dalit leader V. Srinivasprasad spoke to Deccan Chronicle about his plans for the assembly polls. Excerpts from the interview...
It seems you have not forgotten your defeat in Nanjangud last year and still want to take revenge against the CM.
How can I forgot the way Siddaramaiah misused government machinery to defeat me in Nanjangud? My blood boils even today on recalling how the entire cabinet descended on Nanjangud and the manner in which they spent money to defeat me. I would have definitely won the election had it been conducted in a free and fair manner. I respect the mandate but I will not excuse people like Siddaramaiah who thinks he is a king.
Will you work for the defeat of Siddaramaiah who is contesting from Chamundeshwari?
Why not (laughs). I will definitely use my influence in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts to beat Siddaramaiah. I am going to appeal to Dalits not to vote for Siddaramaiah, who is an egoist and a self-centred individual who systematically finished off important Dalit leaders in the Congress. Dr G Parameshwar is a ‘name-sake’ PCC President and Mr Mallikarjun Kharge has been rendered voiceless. Dr Parameshwar knows that it was Siddaramaiah who was responsible for his defeat in the 2013 assembly polls just to eliminate him from the CM race and even complained to then AICC President Sonia Gandhi. But nothing happened. Dalits know these developments and will give a fitting reply to the Congress.
Who rejected the demand for a Dalit CM in the Congress party?
It's a known fact that Siddaramaiah snuffed out the demand by playing politics with some leaders. I was very much present when Siddaramaiah said the assembly elections in Karnataka will be fought under his leadership and the next CM will from the Dalit community if the Congress comes to power. Now, he does not want anybody to be CM except himself. Why should Dalits vote for the Congress which has systematically finished off Dalit voices in Karnataka?
Will Union Minister Ananth Kumar Hegde’s statement on changing the Constitution affect the BJP’s prospects?
I don't think so as a damage control exercise was launched by BJP national president Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi. Despite being a part of the BJP, I did criticise Mr Hegde 's statement. I told Mr Shah that Dr Ambedkar was more important for me than the party. After the gag order by Mr Shah and Mr Modi, Hegde has stopped talking about the Constitution and Dr Ambedkar.
Which way will the Dalits vote this time?
The Congress party is living in a fool’s paradise if it thinks Dalits will vote in its favour. Gone are the days when Dalits were their traditional vote bank. There are over 100 sub-sects in Dalits and among them, Dalit-Right and Left, Lambanis and Bhovis are important. The Congress feels it will get the votes of both Dalit Right and Left which is wrong. These votes will be distributed among the JD(S) and BJP too. But it is difficult to say who Lambanis and Bhovis will vote for. The CM had started corporations for Dalit Right, Left, Lambanis and Bhovis to woo voters.
The BJP is talking of Congress mukht Bharat. Will this happen?
The Congress has been eliminated in almost all states except Punjab, small states in north-east India and Karnataka. They do not want to lose this state at any cost. But they could lose here due to the attitude of Siddaramaiah. Of late, people have started hating Siddaramaiah who claims he is the next CM. The BJP is trying its best to come back power as it is powerful in Karnataka and not in other South Indian states. The JD(S) is waiting for a call from the two national parties in case of a fractured mandate.