‘People see me as alternative to Gowda’

A Manju

Former Minister A Manju, known fondly as Vale (earring) Manju, may claim to have a lot of things going in his favour, but he is still up against JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda’s grandson Prajwal in Hassan. Manju tells DH’s Bharath Joshi why he is confident of winning this time. Excerpts from an interview:

You contested against Deve Gowda unsuccessfully in 2014. How is the 2019 contest different?

In 2014, I fought as a Congress candidate. Now, I’m in the BJP. In the Congress, I got 4.09 lakh votes. These were anti-Deve Gowda votes. I was minister and I have done work because of which people see me as an alternative to Deve Gowda. People also want Modi to become the PM again. Plus, there’s resentment against family politics.

Does the BJP have enough grassroots presence in Hassan?

You won’t believe it! In 1999, the JD(S) was defeated. Of the 8 Assembly segments, the Congress won four and BJP four. How did that happen? Cadre isn’t important here.

But what about BJP’s strength at the booth-level where elections are fought?

BJP has its own strength and A Manju has his own strength. At the ground level, the BJP and the Congress have joined hands.

So is Hassan like Mandya in terms of dissidence?

It’s 100% same. How can they be different?

What’s your vision for Hassan?

Hassan has not seen the kind of development that was expected. It should’ve seen development like in Modi’s constituency, or that of Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa when they were chief ministers. The only development that happened was of one family. There was demand for an IIT. As PM, Gowda could’ve sanctioned one.

Are you promising an IIT?

No, but I’m promising that Hassan will be one of India’s best districts. Can you believe that they’ve buried lakes here? There’s no drinking water for Hassan. It was I who made provision for drinking water when I was district in-charge minister. The last of the irrigation projects happened only during Veerendra Patil’s time.

Didn’t Deve Gowda fight for Hemavathi river?

Hemavathi was Veerendra Patil’s contribution. The allocation of water to districts is monitored by district ministers. As minister, I managed with less rainfall. Now, water from the canals only fill the tanks and is not for crops. You feel sorry when you look at the villages.

What do you make of your opponent Prajwal Revanna?  

He’s got young blood. But even I entered politics with young blood. Don’t you need experience for Parliament? How is it that you get a Class 1 boy to write a degree exam? How will he perform? One should climb up the ladder.

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