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New Ullal MLA U T Khader - an Exclusive Interview

Mangalore: New Ullal MLA U T Khader - an Exclusive Interview

June 8, 2007

'I would Consider it More of a Victory for Secular Forces,' Says U T Khader, MLA-elect of Ullal, speaking exclusively to Daijiworld.com

Profile and interview by Richie Lasrado, Resident Editor, Daijiworld.com
Pics Praveen Tauro Kulshekar


"In his father's footsteps..."

That is the comment one has been often hearing after the Ullal by-election result was declared. But, for UPPALA TURTHI ABDUL KHADER, known in short as U T Khader, the victory or the saddle is not something that came his way on a golden platter, effortlessly.

There have been cases at the national and state-level, when the mantle of power has slipped over to the sons and daughters by proxy. But Khader is one who has cultivated grassroots-level rapport with the people for decades both within and outside Ullal, without even dreaming at that point of time that some day he would be destined to adorn the chair.

A Law graduate, Khader has had leadership qualities for long. During his student days, he was active and had held top posts in NSUI, Bharat Seva Dal and other organizations. After his father U T Fareed was elected - the third time - as MLA in Ullal in 2004, he was not keeping good health. Ever since until Fareed's last days, Khader took the charge of all his father's duties and won everybody's hearts. He ensured that his presence was not obtrusive or overbearing, so that the now-famous, familiar label of 'son-stroke' would not stick.


Khader with Richie Lasrado

During the communal riots of October 2006 and on other occasions also, he is said to have reined in the aggressive elements in his community and averted the chances of minor altercations turning into major flare-ups. Besides, he is believed to have helped many members of other communities in those critical moments.

Soon after his election, when contacted by daijiworld.com, Khader willingly agreed to give an interview, in spite of a large presence of party leaders and supporters at his residence in Kalpana Road, Kankanady in the city.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview given to Resident Editor Richie Lasrado:

This by-election had attracted high media hype not only at the state level but also at the national level. From the result of the voting in Ullal, what message do you think the voters have given?

For me, it is a clear message that the people of Ullal want to live in peace and those who divide the society in the name of religion and caste will not succeed. There is a clear message that if all communities can come together, there can be peace and progress.

Although the aggregate votes polled in the consituency were less than the last time around, you have won with a majority higher than what your late father won with. Do you take this win with a sense of victory?

It is more of a victory for secular forces. I accept this as a mark of trust placed by the people in me and additional responsibility entrusted to me. I will use this opportunity to serve the people of my constituency in whatever way possible.


Seeking guidance and blessings from senior leaders like former ZP president Sadananda Poonja

Two major parties oppposing you marshalled all their resources to defeat you rather than ensuring their own victory. Key cabinet ministers camped here for days. The chief minister said if given three months' time he would change the face of Ullal. Deputy chief minister Yediyurappa said he would adopt Ullal. Now, after the result is out, chief minister Kumaraswamy says it was a sympathy vote in your favour, after the death of your father.

In a sense, what Mr Kumaraswamy said was true. I am proud that my late father had so many supporters. It is also important that I won with the support of my party and the people of Ullal. The voters have shown that they are very shrewd and prudent when making a choice.

Although it is wrong to look at the election result on the basis of caste or creed, political analysis by experts shows that you have managed to win a chunk of BJP votes and in all about 13,000 Hindus have voted in your favour, which is regarded as a matter of credit to you, when Ullal is a Muslim-dominated constituency.

I would not consider it from that point of view. What matters is that all supporters of Congress and a large number of voters from all communities have backed me.

On the evening of the day of counting, you made it a point visit two temples, a church and a dargah in Ullal, which has earned you a lot of goodwill. Is it just symbolic or a mark of a lot of things to be seen in future?

I have been helping everyone from all faiths, whenever approached. A lot of harm has been done to the communal harmony in the district in the past years. I want to bring together all communities and want to be a bridge between communities.


Khader going through the extensive reports of the Ullal by-election published by Daijiworld.com

The problem of sea erosion has been dogging Ullal for decades. Every year, lacs of rupees are pumped into damage control and relief measures. What permanent measures do you plan to undertake to mitigate this problem?

The problem of sea erosion is common to the coastal belt from Kasaragod to Karwar. Only over a stretch of about 1.5 km in Ullal it is very severe. We have been asking  the government for a permanent solution for many years. Last year, both the CM and the deputy CM visited the affected areas and a Rs 33-crore plan was discussed. Nothing has happened after the promise. Even if Rs 5 crore were sanctioned, work would have begun. The deputy CM has been giving grants to various institutions and associations, but not a single paisa has been sanctioned for this project. In that case, what they promised could be regarded as untrue or they should tell us clearly that they are not interested in going ahead with this project.

The Ullal constituency has been facing many problems like drinking water, water-logging and others. Have you identified your priorities as the new elected representative?

Ullal is a semi-urban, semi-rural town. It is separated from the city by only 2 kms. So the people of Ullal come to the city, they see good roads, facilities etc. So naturally they expect the same in their own town, without realizing that development of the infrastructure is governed by the local body rules. Ullal is a gram panchayat and hence there are certain limitations. But, in spite of it, when my father was alive, he had got many things approved, up to about 75%. What is left for me is the remaining 25%.

The state is ruled by a non-Congress government. There are already precedents of federal or state governments not favouring elected representatives of other parties. Do you think you will face hardships in getting funds released for developmental works because the people of Ullal have elected a Congress MLA?

Yes, I foresee this possibility. But I will personally see the CM and the deputy CM to remind them of their election promisesof adopting the village or changing the face of Ullal, and it is an opportunity for them to fulfil them.

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