For a debutant, winning an election is none too easy but some of the pressure goes off when one has the gift of the gab and can, with a frank and sincere approach, make people see your perspective and think your way. Tejasvi Surya, the Bangalore South candidate the BJP pulled out of the proverbial hat to stun one and all, has all that is needed to win over people-powerul oratory, clear and logical thinking and mannerisms bordering on innocence. But will that be enough to win one of the most prestigious constituencies in the state which the late Ananth Kumar represented six times? After a grinding road show in Govindarajanagar, Tejasvi sat down for an interview with Bhaskar Hegde and spoke about various issues including his vision for Bangalore South.
Q: You had campaigned for party candidates earlier. But this time, you yourself are in the limelight. How do you feel?
A: Oh, I feel more responsible because it is my own campaign. I am fortunate that I got the support of leaders like Mr Ashok, Mr Somanna and Mr Satish Reddy. Honestly, they have been taking a personal interest in guiding me.
Q: Now that you are in the midst of serious campaigning, how do you gauge the response?
A: I think it’s very positive. People are welcoming wherever we go. They want to see Prime Minister Modi re-elected. They are also happy that the PM and the party president have selected a young candidate for Bangalore South. The moment you say ‘Modi’, people wave, show victory signs and clap.
Q: Saw three or four clippings of poll speeches and in all, you spoke of India and in one of the clippings you stood on the bench and addressed a small gathering..
A: Well, it was a large gathering of chartered accountants.
Q: Your speech largely focuses on India and Modi. Do you touch upon Bengaluru South and contributions of late Ananth Kumar also?
A: Of course I speak about Ananth Kumar and his contribution. The fact is that he is one of the makers of modern Bengaluru. It is matter of pride for us that he worked hard to get an international airport, suburban rail, Cauvery IV stage, etc. He has had a key role in every major project in the city. The other important thing is: He has set a benchmark for how a public representative should conduct himself. This is the campaign pitch.
Q: As a law student and a BJP youth wing office-bearer, you spoke a lot about patriotism. There are two schools of thought: Patriotism should be open-ended and should not be put in a frame, while the other section feels the need for a boundary and that it should be disciplined. How do you see this now?
A: The idea is patriotism is very simple: it is just a natural feeling for your motherland, to see this motherland attain the pinnacle of success on all fronts. I don’t know why it is a contentious issue. It is sad that some people want to portray it as a radical idea. I feel the idea of patriotism can never be radical.
Q: What is your stand on those who question ‘patriotism’ being penalized or branded as anti-national..
A: You can always criticise any person in public life. You can criticise even the Prime Minister in the strongest terms. But, your opposition to a Prime Minister cannot become a deep sense of cynicism or hatred towards the country. That is when you have to raise concerns. One example that comes to mind is the statement made by Mr B.K. Hariprasad after the Pulwama attack, in which he claimed that the attack was a match-fixing tactic between Modi and Pakistan. Such statements help the causes of Pakistan and compromise India’s interests at global level. That’s one instance where you can see people have crossed the boundary.
Q: You probably know that Congress leaders like Siddaramaiah and Dr G. Parameshwara have been strongly critical of you. How do you want to see these?
A: When you enter electoral politics you should be ready to face criticism. With reference to all of these leaders, I take their criticism as blessings because they are seniors.
Q: When a person enters public life, he or she usually begins with ideals like humility and honesty. But as they move on in public life, the same leaders begin to believe that the sun rises because of them. You are entering the public life now. How do you plan to tackle this trap?
A: I a deeply spiritual person. I feel people in politics and public life should be like saints. This is the concept that is exists in India from the days of Mahabharata. In Shanti Parva, its mentioned that king should be like a Raja Sanyasi. Fame, money and arrogance should not go into one’s head. Right from my child hood that is the guiding light. Every moment, I remind myself to be a good man first.
Q: Moving on, the Congress party says BJP is anti-Ambedkar and BJP is anti-everything. As a trained lawyer, how do you deal with this issue particularly Ambedkar writing the constitution.
A: The Congress has nothing but a campaign of lies against the BJP. The Congress party was primarily responsible for the defeat of Ambedkar in the elections and they always have to bear the burden of that sin. The BJP government of Narendra Modi has done utmost to carry forward the legacy of Ambedkar. Personally for me, Ambedkar is a childhood hero. Please come to my study room, I will show you the portrait of Ambedkar along with the photos of Veer Savarkar and Swami Vivekananda. I take a lot inspiration from him because I always wanted to be a scholar-politician like Ambedkar.
Q: How do you want to take forward the legacy of Ananth Kumar?
A: I will strive to be inclusive and try to take along every single person from all walks of life. Most importantly, I want to be the voice of the urban poor in Bengaluru because in any city, the first important thing is to take care of the urban poor. If they are given lives of dignity, you can rest assured that the entire city will have a great standard of living. I would like to prepare a grand vision for taking Bengaluru city to the next level, where it can truly compete with global metropolis.
Q: Finally, Bengaluru South is unique in a sense that you can find people Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani who are recognized worldwide, here. Do you have plans to meet during the campaign or to associate with them in the long run?
A: Democracy is not a ‘once-in-a-five-years’ exercise. It is a gift that a public representative of Bengaluru South will get an opportunity to work with legends like the ones you mentioned. It is more important because I am young and I have to involve them in policy formulation and in all other activities. I would like to have them mentor me and guide me.
Current MP: D.V. Sadananda Gowda
Candidates for 2019: D V Sadananda Gowda (BJP), Krishna Byregowda (Congress)
Total voters: 2,401,472
Assembly constituencies: K. R. Pura, Byatarayanapura, Yeshvanthapura, Dasarahalli, Mahalakshmi Layout, Malleshwaram, Hebbal, and Pulakeshinagar