State BJP general secretary N. Ravikumar has been camping in Kalaburagi for nearly one- and-a-half months to evolve a strategy to defeat veteran Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge this Lok Sabha election. Having worked in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region as an ABVP functionary for over eight years in the past, Mr Ravikumar tells K.N. Reddy that he has the neccessary tools to defeat Mr Kharge, who has been unbeatable for years in the constituency. Excerpts from an interview:
You have been in Kalaburagi for a few weeks now. What is your assessment of the situation?
M. Kharge is known as “Solillada Saradar” (A leader who has been undefeated). But our candidate, Dr Umesh Jadhav has been accepted by all communities and is accessible. Kharge’s followers say he is an able, noble leader of the HK region. But he has grossly failed to carry out development work commensurate with his seniority and clout. He claims he has brought this hospital, that college, this railway line, that road etc. But are these the achievements that should be listed? My question to Mr Kharge is why are lakhs of farm labourers from Kalaburagi and Yadagir districts migrating to big cities in search of employment? Why has he not brought industries to the region? Why has no attention been paid to expand irrigation? An irrigation project launched during Veerendra Patil’s time has remained incomplete so far. It’s painful. When Mumbai-Karnataka can develop, why not HK region? If you cannot solve these problems even after being in power for nearly 50 years, what does it mean? People will find a solution to their backwardness by showing the door to Mr Kharge and bringing Dr Jadhav in his place. He will win by at least one lakh votes. In my view Kalaburagi district will give a new turn to state politics.
Mr Kharge won by over 74,000 votes the last election despite a strong Modi wave. So how could he be on a sticky wicket this time?
The last time we did not field a strong candidate and secondly we did not concentrate on this seat. In addition, whatever (unholy) relationship our candidate (Revu Naik) had with Mr Kharge, led to his victory.This time we have three MLA seats in the district and there is both a pro- Yeddyurappa and pro-Modi wave.
What is your poll strategy for Kalaburagi?
We have strengthened our base at the booth level and are impressing on the people how effective Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership is. This is working wonders. We are also focusing on the failure of the coalition government in the state. In addition, we are using big leaders to reach out to voters. (BJP national president) Mr Amit Shah is visiting the constituency soon. And we are focusing on youth too.
But there are rumours that some of your own party leaders are hand in glove with Mr Kharge these elections.
There is such talk, but it’s not possible. I admit it happened when Mr Revu Naik contested, but this time there is no such possibility.
Mr Kharge alleges there is a conspiracy to defeat him from “galli to Delhi.” Who is he referring to?
As far as te BJP is concerned, we have nothing to hide. We are making a concerted effort (to defeat him). Mr Kharge may be referring to the conspiracy by his own party leaders. A large number of Congress leaders, including elected representatives, have contacted us and expressed their desire to clandestinely support us. They are afraid of Mr Kharge
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