A close aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Kuruba leader, Dr Devaraj Patil, was denied the Congress ticket from the Badami Assembly constituency despite being first offered it in 2013 and saw it go to five-time legislator, B.B. Chimmanakatti instead.
And now, in an almost exact replay, he has had to sacrifice his chance at the hustings to make way for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has chosen Badami as his second constituency these elections. He spoke of his missed chances in an interview with Vittal Shastri. Excerpts:
Don't you think that Congress has done you injustice by denying you the party ticket from Badami a second time?
Yes. I am naturally disappointed at not getting the Congress ticket despite being first named the candidate in two consecutive Assembly elections. I had nurtured a dream of becoming an MLA and worked hard to develop a good rapport with the people. But I am quite happy to have given up my ticket for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. I would have been more upset if the ticket was given to some other candidate.
It is said that the Chief Minister is contesting from Badami for fear of defeat in Chamundeshwari.
This is not true. The Chief Minister is not keen on contesting from North Karnataka even now. But Congress leaders from our region have put a lot of pressure on him to contest from Badami as we feel the party will win more seats in North Karnataka if he does so. His presence will also help keep the AHINDA votebank intact in the region for the party.
Have party leaders assured you of any position for giving up the ticket for the Chief Minister?
There is no need for any assurance from Congress leaders as they are aware of my contribution to the party. They will definitely recognise my efforts, although I have not sought anything in return. It is not good to put conditions on sacrifices made. Moreover, I have not entered politics to seek any position or earn money, but to serve the people as I am a doctor by profession and have my own nursing home. I am confident the party will give me a proper position in future.
Is there unity now in the Badami unit of the Congress as there were six aspirants for the ticket?
Dissidence is common in all political parties when there are too many ticket aspirants. The differences among those hoping to contest from Badami have not been resolved. The party leaders will set things right very soon. We must be united and follow the diktats of the party by setting aside our differences as the Chief Minister himself is contesting from our constituency.
MLA B B Chimmanakatti was upset when your name was first announced as the candidate from Badami this time. How are your relations with him now?
There is professional rivalry between us as we were both strong contenders for the party ticket. This is common when two individuals fight for a single post. But we will have to work together to ensure the victory of the Chief Minister with a big margin.