Sreesanth hopes to bowl BJP to maiden victory in Kerala

Sreesanth hopes to bowl BJP to maiden victory in Kerala

S Sreesanth, the BJP candidate in Thiruvananthapuram, is on the final leg of his campaign for the May 16 Assembly election.

The controversial cricketer — the image he claims is largely media-created — has come a long way after an iffy start and criticism of being an outsider in the constituency.

The 33-year-old is in a 3-cornered fight in Thiruvananthapuram, against 2 seasoned campaigners — sitting Congress MLA and Health Minister V S Sivakumar and LDF candidate Antony Raju.

He tells DH that he has moved beyond the star-celeb introduction and is now approaching issues of development in the constituency with the purpose and honesty of “a common man who wants to make a difference”. Excerpts from an interview:-

What are you telling the voters of Thiruvananthapuram? Why should they vote for Sreesanth, for the BJP?

The issue of corruption is something which my party and I take seriously. This constituency has suffered because of its infrastructure issues. Waste management is a major concern. Drinking water is a huge issue; I was at this locality where 50 to 60 families reside with virtually no access to drinking water.

This is a political debut and a big career shift for you. How confident are you in understanding and addressing these issues in a constituency you are largely unfamiliar with?

I agree that before I joined politics, I was not familiar with the local issues here. I used to be a visitor, staying in the best of hotels, moving around in the comfort of my cars. But it’s different now; I’m out there interacting with people everyday.

The people are left with a toss-up between the corrupt Congress and an anti-development Left. I’m honest in my approach and with a BJP government at the Centre, I’m confident of making a positive difference here.

But that’s for later. Do you have a long-term commitment to politics as a career, irrespective of poll result?

I don’t look at it as a career; this is going to be my life. About the result, I’m positive; there are about 26,000 new voters who are looking for a change.

You are a newcomer up against 2 formidable opponents. How realistic are your chances?

The response has been overwhelming. People in the constituency are accepting me. Some of them do tell me that they have traditionally voted for the other parties but still ask me to check with their families. That’s okay with me.

Does the cricketer-celebrity tag help?

I’m honoured to have been welcomed into the BJP by (Narendra) Modi ji and Amit Shah ji. It does help that people recognise me but after that introduction, I’m just a candidate. I’m not the typical celebrity with starry airs though sometimes, the media project me on those lines.

The IPL spot-fixing charges are being recalled by your opponents. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury made a statement vaguely pointing to the charges.

I’m not going to take names but would like to remind, whoever is talking about spot-fixing, that the court cleared me of the charges. I respect the judiciary, maybe my critics don’t. People who point fingers at me should look within. They should, perhaps, look at the fixing arrangement they themselves entered into with the Congress in West Bengal.

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