'Oppn blew pub incident out of proportion... it’s a non-issue'

'Oppn blew pub incident out of proportion... it’s a non-issue'

This Assembly polls should have been a cakewalk for N A Haris, the sitting Congress MLA from the Shantinagar constituency. But an apolitical incident involving his son Mohammed Nalapad has made it a much tighter contest than he had hoped. Back in February, Nalapad and his associates brutally beat up a youngster in a pub attack and the Congress almost dropped Haris’ name from the candidate list, fearing the backlash.

In an interview with Deccan Herald’s Rajashekara S, Haris asserts that he will be judged by his performance as an MLA for the past 10 years rather than by the incident involving his son. Excerpts:

Is this your toughest election yet. If so, why?

I don’t think there’s a challenge or a challenger. None of my rivals in the BJP or the Congress has principles or ideology. Both are turncoats, who are here to grab power by hook or by crook. People are watching this and will take a decision while casting their votes. But everyone will put their best efforts in an election.

BJP national president Amit Shah had appealed to voters in Bengaluru to get rid of you, K J George and R Roshan Baig. Comment.  

I don’t want to talk about these people. Amit Shah can’t influence my voters or my constituency. The BJP leaders only believe in selling stories to the voters and never believe in working for them. All the three legislators he targeted are minorities. Such divisive methods wouldn’t work in Karnataka... 

In the past, you’ve said the Opposition is targeting you after the pub attack incident involving your son Mohammed Nalapad. What do you have to say about the incident?

Look, the Opposition picked up a small incident and blew it out of proportion. I never defended what happened. The incident shouldn’t have happened; it’s a-political. Has it affected my constituents? Has it affected my work for the people? None of these have been affected. It has also not affected my electioneering. People here know me personally. I made my son surrender to the police. Did anyone do this before in a similar incident? I apologised on the floor of the House. It’s a non-issue in the election. I’m directly connecting with the voters just before the elections.

An a-political incident just before the elections had almost cost you the ticket. When the Congress party did not name you in the first list, what was going on in your mind?

Nothing. I’m a strong Congressman. My concept of being an MLA is to work for the poor and the helpless. I’m not here to continue as an MLA by hook or by crook. God has given me all the patience. I have faith in the creator and wait for whatever good that happens. I only look at the positives. I’ve done good things to people and people are with me. Sometimes things like this will happen and one has to face it.

Are you missing your son?

Yes... very much... no doubts about it. But I can’t do anything about it. I’m also a father... am not just an MLA. Ours is a close-knit family. I’m a human being and I, too, have feelings similar to the ones you have for your son. I’m taking everything in my stride and going ahead.

When did you last meet your son?

The day before the incident. I haven’t met him in the past three months. I didn’t want to give the media and my rivals a chance to make a big story by meeting my son. This is the price we pay for being in public life.

Your son was also your political heir and you were grooming him. Do you miss him during the election time?

No, I didn’t groom him. He was a mere office-bearer in the Youth Congress. He was interested to be active in the Youth Congress. I told him being an MLA is a thankless job. I had asked him not to do this job.