'Now, it’s time for BJP’s exit from Shimoga'

'Now, it’s time for BJP’s exit from Shimoga'

Former MLA Madhu Bangarappa, nominee of coalition partners, has stepped up his campaign in Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency. The workers of Congress and JD(S) are working in tandem to wrest Shimoga seat from BJP. Madhu, who was able to bring down BJP’s victory margin from more than three lakh votes to 52,000 votes in the byelection held last year, is confident of winning in his second Lok Sabha electoral battle. Madhu spoke to Nrupathunga S K of DH.

How is your election campaign proceeding day-by-day?

Unlike the by-election where I had only 13 days for campaigning, I started campaigning 17 days before filing nomination papers this time. Initially, I campaigned at gram panchayat level this time which I could not do earlier due to the shortage of time. The workers have been trained in door-to-door campaigning. I am seeking one chance to be their representative in Lok Sabha. We will go aggressive now onwards.

Though you lost the byelection, you were able to reduce victory margin of BJP.  What are your plans this time?

There are about 4 lakh anti-BJP votes in the constituency. I have to convince them that I am their candidate. First, I like to bring down BJP’s votes further and convince anti-BJP voters to exercise their franchise in favour of JD(S). Minorities were confused last year. But now, they know the party for which they have to vote. I think I will be successful here.

Do you expect sympathy from voters, having the lost the assembly polls and Lok Sabha by-election in a row?

Obviously, there will be sympathy. But I am asking voters to give me one chance as they gave BJP three chances. But the latter failed to fulfill promises after the victory. But I will deliver without fail. 

Have you taken any corrective measure after the defeats?

As far as I know, I had not committed any mistake earlier. But I have realised that election is about proper planning and execution. You can’t reach 16 lakh voters. So, you have to reach them through your leaders. I am taking my sister’s help to reach voters.

BJP is a cadre-based party and Shivamogga has been its strong forte for the past one decade. How are you going to achieve your goal?

Yes, BJP is a cadre-based party, but we are not. The Congress has its own workers in the district and they are working for me at booth-level. In Sagar, Byndoor constituencies, it is the Congress and we have no presence there. But in Sorab, Bhadravathi, Shimoga Rural, we have a good hold. The alliance has made us stronger than earlier.

You are the nominee of Congress-JD(S). Has it put you in an advantageous position?

Of course, yes. The combined strength will prove beneficial. The pro-people schemes of the Siddaramaiah-led government and farm-loan waiver, sanction of grants for irrigation projects by Kumaraswamy-led government will be an added advantage. Despite the infighting in any form of coalition set-up, the result will be positive. The leaders of the two parties have to deliver. 

Will the tiff among Congress and JD(S) in Old Mysuru region make any impact here?

Not at all. Even there, it will not have any impact.

Do you think Shivarajkumar’s presence in the campaign would have had a huge impact on results?

Shivanna is a force and an asset. But I don’t want to use it for political gain. Shivanna told me that credit should not go his way, if I win.

Will I-T raids on relatives of JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda and leaders of the party make any impact on Shimoga?

Not, it will not make any impact as it is not directly connected to me. But it shows the weakness of BJP.

What are your plans to end the dominance of BJP in Shivamogga constituency?

BJP represented Shimoga in Lok Sabha for the past 10 years. Now, it is time for them to exit. Out of eight assembly segments in Lok Sabha constituency, Congress has one and BJP has seven. But I had obtained 4,91,158 votes in the byelection after campaigning for just 13 days. This time, I will do better
than the byelection without fail.