Former minister Baburao Chavan is a disappointed man. As vice-president of the state BJP unit, he had hoped to contest this Lok Sabha poll from Kalaburagi as he hasn’t lost an opportunity to take on veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who has represented the constituency for years in parliament, and also his son Priyank Kharge. But the BJP decided to field Umesh Jadhav against Mr Kharge in Kalaburagi and an upset Mr Chavan changed his tune. Joining the Congress, he became chummy with the senior leader, reportedly in the hope of being fielded by the party for the Chincholi assembly bypoll. But he was in for another disappointment as it fielded Subash Rathod instead, leaving him in the lurch. The former BJP leader now asserts he will not campaign for Mr Rathod unless Mr Kharge invites him to. Excerpts from an interview with K.N. Reddy
What was the assurance given to you when you joined the Congress? Were you promised the Chincholi ticket?
Mr Mallikarjun Kharge told me that they would favourably consider my case, and so I joined the Congress.
Are you now disappointed that you have been bypassed although you were a minister once and had contested from Chincholi in 2008 (on a KJP ticket)?
Yes, I’m really disappointed. I don’t know why I was not selected.
Did you raise the issue when Mr Rathod joined the Congress because it was rumoured at the time that he had been promised the party ticket for Chincholi?
I did not know that Mr Rathod was also eyeing the Chincholi ticket. He joined the Congress after I did . If I had known that he would be given the ticket , I would not have joined the party. I was hoping for the ticket as I had lost Chincholi as a KJP candidate by around 5,600 votes in 2008. Moreover, my wife is from the same taluk. But Mr Rathod is an outsider from Aland taluk.
What is your future course of action now ?
I will meet Mr Kharge and ask him why I was not given the ticket. I will ask him ‘Sir what are your directions for me because I quit the post of BJP state vice-presidentship based on your assurance.”
You think Mr Rathod has been given the ticket without the approval by Mr Kharge?
Definitely not, Mr Rathod’s name would not have been cleared without Mr Kharge’s approval. My understanding is that the district -in-charge minister, Priyank Kharge, fought hard to give the ticket to Mr Rathod.
In light of this development, do you think you made a wise decision in quitting a party where you were vice-president?
In politics one has to take risks. I thought I would have a good future in the Congress because the BJP had accorded a red carpet welcome to Dr Umesh Jadhav by giving him the MP ticket and the MLA ticket to his son. Where was the future for me in that party? Secondly, I was not comfortable in the BJP because I was merely a titular vice-president. I was never consulted on any matter worthwhile and was only given the post because they wanted to crush Revu Naik. What impressed me most when I met Mr Kharge before joining the Congress were his words, ‘why did you quit the Congress? If you had continued in the party I would have made you something.’ I hope that I will be suitably rewarded even now because there are no big Lambani leaders in the Congress today.
Will you campaign for Mr Rathod?
No, I will not because he did not invite me on the day he filed his nomination papers. Of course the DCC president, Jagdev Guttedar invited me, but that’s not enough. So far Mr Rathod has not spoken to me after getting the ticket. And now even if he calls me, I will not campaign for him. But if Mr Kharge calls, I will do it.