Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (SB)
Mangaluru, Feb 28: Capt Brijesh Chowta is an ex-serviceman, political thinker, an entrepreneur, academician and also a management expert. He completed his graduation at St Aloysius College, and studies in executive business management from Indian Institute of Management, Indore. Capt Chowta is an affable and competent professional with seven years of experience in independent handling of HR, security, operations, administration and logistics of the Indian Army. He now serves as the general secretary of the Dakshina Kannada district BJP.
Capt Brijesh Chowta spoke in an exclusive interview to daijiworld editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld 24x7 channel's 'Public Challenge' programme.
Q: Having completed your SSLC from Milagres School and PU and graduation in science from St Aloysius College, what inspired you to join the Indian Army?
A: When I was in St Aloysius, I had close connections with both NCC and RSS. Both inspired me to join the army. After securing degree, I wrote UPSC exam for Combined Defence Services. After clearing the exam through SSB, I received my training at OTI Chennai and later rendered service in Indian army for seven years in the category of Short Service Commission.
When I was in the army, I worked at Infantry’s Gorkha Regiment. With this I got the opportunity to visit many parts of the country. It gave me an opportunity to learn Nepali language too. We, especially the youths of the coastal region, do not know much about Short Service Commission. Apart from politics, it is my sincere request that our youth know about this. It gives a wonderful opportunity to serve the nation, mingle with all types of people and travel to many parts of the country.
Q: Where did you spend your time in the seven years of your army life?
A: I received my training in Chennai. I spent another three months for training at Shillong where we have our regimental centre. Then I was deployed in Manipur for three years and later in Assam for a year when insurgency was at peak. And rest of the time in many other parts of North India.
Q: Was your life in danger at any point of time while serving the country?
A: Soldiers do not think about dangers when they work as team during operations. Naturally when working in the areas of counter insurgency and line of control, the infantry soldiers form two teams, namely patrolling and ambushing, and work like the police which we see in our region. Here, the police patrol in vehicles, but in infantry, soldiers patrol the area on foot.
Q: Of course. Soldiers are ready to give their lives to the nation. But as human being, especially when you were in Kashmir, did you experience any danger?
A: It depends on the way you think. Soldiers give importance to maintain law and order in the region where they are appointed. If their primary objective is to kill militants, they never think about the safety of their lives. They are trained to face challenges. But sometimes, they face difficulties to find out the actual militants. Normally, militants mingle with normal people. This will become a risk for soldiers. Otherwise, they never feel any danger whatsoever.
Q: What was the reason for serving in the army for seven years?
A: Short Service Commission allows one to work in the army for six years. But I extended it for one year more. From Ranchi, I completed my tenure. Later I joined IIM. One needs two years to complete MBA, but if one has an experience of five years in army, one can complete MBA in just one year. After my MBA, I came to Bengaluru and worked for a company called Indus Towers for 6-7 months. During this period, I resumed my old contacts with the RSS. I then met Capt Ganesh Karnik in a programme at Bengaluru. I told him about my desire to join politics. He advised me that Mangaluru was better for my political career. From there, I slowly grew and reached to my current position.
Q: Usually, youths who complete MBA from IIM, dream to achieve big positions in major firms. But you decided to enter politics. Do you have anyone from your family in politics?
A: No. I do not have any politicians in my family.
Q: According to certain sources, your family belongs to Arasu dynasty.
A: Jains and Bunts, both have the surname Chowta. Jains, living in the surroundings of Moodbidri, belong to the Arasu dynasty. But I do not know whether I belong to that dynasty. My father is a farmer and mother a housewife. After I joined the army, they settled at Farangipet. We have our agriculture land over there. After the election in 2013, I engaged myself in BJP party works. First, I was appointed president of BJP Yuva Morcha for three years. Later, the party gave me the position of district general secretary.
Q: After 2013, you started working actively for the BJP. From 2013 onwards, the BJP gained more popularity in state and nationwide. But along with politics, you are engaged in other socio-cultural activities also like Kambala. After the verdict of the Supreme Court you, gave more importance to Kambala to popularize it. What is behind your interest in Kambala?
A: As said before, I belong to a farmer’s family. In olden days, every village had Kambala. So I have good knowledge of the sport. Now, with the help of my friends, I got an opportunity to organise Kambala. It is part of Tulunadu culture and heritage. It unites all religions. Muslims and Christians also involve actively in Kambala. But some animal rights activists, without knowing the culture of Tulunadu, went to court and tried to stop the sport. They hurt people’s sentiments and cultural feelings. Because of this, people were deprived of the chance to watch and participate in Kambala. People, especially from the city, started to forget Kambala. Hence to provide an opportunity of watching Kambala to people from cities, and other parts of the state, coming here for education, business and other requirements, I started to organise Kambala in the city. It was a successful event.
Q: Normally, before the elections, politicians keep themselves engaged in socio-cultural activities. Keeping in mind the upcoming elections or ticket, did you focus on Kambala?
A: No. As we were legally allowed to organise Kambala, we did it. If we were allowed to do it last season, we would have done that. There is no necessity to make unnecessary drama for ticket in BJP. I have been working for the party since 2013. The party will give you a ticket based on your work. I did not organise Kambala to win a ticket.
Apart from politics, every politician will have social and cultural interests. Before Kambala, I made an attempt to organise a programme called Emboz in Bengaluru. With this programme, I had an intention to introduce tribal artists from North India and their special art forms which are very popular in foreign countries. That time, I was not in politics. Hence, in finding traditional and cultural things of our country, lies my interest and I am always keeping myself engaged in those areas. Kambala is also a part of that.
Q: There are eight constituencies in Dakshina Kannada. BJP has not confirmed ticket to any candidate this time. On which constituency is your focus?
A: Party seniors always judge us. They monitor our work and see how active we are. Young leaders like me are always ready to contest elections if senior party leaders ask us to. If my seniors say, I am ready to fight it out in any constituency.
Q: We all know that election ticket distribution is mostly based on caste. Due to this, many eligible candidates do not get tickets. In Dakshina Kannada also, there is a custom of dividing seats based on caste and community. Every time, BJP gives two or three seats to Bunts community. Keeping in this mind, do believe you will be given ticket by the BJP?
A: I cannot answer that. It is better to ask our senior party leaders. Granting election tickets on community basis is part of politics. Political parties always work as part of society. Because of this, they are compelled to give opportunities to communities which live in the society. As per the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', we should bring people of all sections on one panel. Our founder Deen Dayal Upadhyaya also dreamt the same. Every section of the society should have representatives. It is not like Congress that breaks communities or castes.
Nobody gives opportunities like BJP to various sections of the society. PM Modi is one of the best example for that. He started his life selling tea. Meanwhile, he was actively involved in party work and the party gave him full support. Today, he stands tall as the Prime Minister of India. Our national president (Amit Shah) started his party work from booth level. Our upcoming chief minister B S Yeddyurappa started his political career by being involved in famers’ issues. So our senior leaders gave opportunities to all who are eligible to represent communities. In Dakshina Kannada also, our party will select eligible candidates.
Q: 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', was a slogan started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Four years have completed now. Do you think this slogan has been implemented?
A: One hundred percent. Being a BJP member, of course my opinion will be always in favour of Modi. But in a recent survey, 72% people said that the slogan was implemented. For 60 years, a family ruled the nation and they centralized governmental benefits to a particular section. But Modi changed it all.
Q: We should appreciate the vision of Modi. But four years back, he promised Rs 15 lac for every family. For 70 years, nobody thought about this idea. He said that his government would generate one crore jobs every year. No one thought about it earlier. Now the question is when is the government going to fulfill its promises?
A: The implementation has already started and under progress. But the issue of Rs 15 lac is created by Congress. In his statement, Modi had said that with good governance, families would receive benefits of Rs 15 lac. He never meant that the government would deposit cash in everybody’s bank accounts.
Q: Okay, but even Amit Shah accepted that the statement of Rs 15 lac was an election gimmick. Now in the recent budget, the government has announced free insurance scheme. Is this also an election gimmick? What about a crore of jobs every year?
A: You should have a look at our nation’s economic condition. In his recent speech, Modi said that Congress’ 10 years governance destroyed the country’s economy. In 2014, NPAs crossed Rs 10 lac crore. So we faced huge difficulties in controlling NPAs which were mishandled by Congress in ten years. But in the last four years, under the leadership of finance minister Arun Jaitley and PM Modi, we are trying to control the economy. These leaders saved our economy from collapsing and now the entire world looks to our economy positively.
Inflation is under control in the last four years. The nation’s growth rate is good.
Fiscal deficit is quite low as per target in the last year. But we have an ambitious target to achieve in the coming years. Arun Jaitley has already informed that we will achieve a growth rate of 7.2. As per Modi’s wish, everyone should involve in the nation’s economy and its benefits should go to everyone. For this, he introduced many people-friendly programmes. Today, majority of the people living in the society are happy with Modi's government. Recent victories in elections and various surveys prove that Modi is accepted by people.
Q: BJP has expressed high confidence in winning the upcoming elections in Karnataka. Now the question is how state BJP can face election projecting Yeddyurappa as CM. In his term, he landed in jail on charges of corruption. There are many other allegations of corruption against him.
A: Yeddyurappa went to jail due to a conspiracy of some people. In India, even a murderer gets bail. But Yeddyurappa’s bail application in a cheating case was rejected by the sessions court. Congress played a vital role in this. Later, the high court gave him clean chit and quashed the FIRs against him. Because there is prima facie evidence in that case. Corruption allegations on de-notification against him were also cleared. As per the report of Justice Santosh Hegde on mining, many names were mentioned who involved in illegal mining and corruption.
Yeddyurappa issued an order to investigate illegal mining. He stopped illegal mining and in his tenure, he did not issue a single new licence for mining. So how can anyone allege anything against Yeddyurappa? Not even a single wrongdoing was proved against Yeddyurappa. Except in a case where someone went to the Supreme Court with an appeal. Comparatively, as many as 67 cases are registered against Siddaramaiah with the ACB.
When BJP was ruling Karnataka, Siddaramaiah ran through the state and demanded for a strong Lokayukta. But now, he has weakened Lokayukta. Corruption is rampant right from village office to CM’s office. Modi said it is 10 percent commission government. I will say it is 30 % commission government. Entire administration system has collapsed.
Congress government in the state is corrupt and anti-Hindu government. Farmers hate this government. So the people of Karnataka have decided to bring Yeddyurappa back to power.
Q: Yeddyurappa has the support of his community. He is a Lingayat leader. Is BJP okay with this?
A: There are Lingayat leaders in Congress as well. Lingayats form a big community. Meanwhile, Scheduled Castes too are in huge number. Then why does Mallikarjun Kharge not get complete support from them? All I can say is that people vote only those leaders who have real concern for them. People Karnataka now realize that only Yeddyurappa can lead the state in the right direction. Hence, as per the mission given by BJP national president Amit Shah, we will definitely come to power bagging more than 150 seats.
Q: BJP had the same '150 plus mission' in Gujarat too. But the final figure was below hundred.
A: There is a difference in between Gujarat and Karnataka. First, Congress brainwashed the Patel community and they turned against us. After Modi moved to national politics from state, we faced some challenges in Gujarat. And it was a great challenge to face the people fourth time. It is not easy to retain power consecutively in five terms.
Now the entire nation is engulfed in Modi wave. We are hundred percent sure of winning by a big majority in Karnataka. In the upcoming elections, we will project the achievements of our tenure, the development works of Modi government, and Congress government’s corruption and anti-Hindu policy.
Q: What is your vision for Mangaluru in the upcoming election?
A: Mangaluru can act as the growth engine of Karnataka. We have many plans for it. People of Mangaluru have great business sense. The geographical location also supports this. But the government does not take any initiative for the comprehensive development of Mangaluru. Our MLA J R Lobo has not shown any interest regarding this.
Q: Do you mean J R Lobo did nothing for Mangaluru’s development?
A: In our tenure, we planned a project named 'Nagarothana'. It is a project where funds are allocated for major cities for their development. For Mangaluru, we sanctioned Rs 200 crore. All know how Mangaluru developed in our tenure. But from the last four and half years, only Rs 70 crore has been sanctioned for Mangaluru’s development work. But J R Lobo failed to use it properly for the integral development of the city. We do not know if Congress leaders are busy with their own politics or attracting particular communities.
Q: If you are alleging that J R Lobo’s contribution is zero, what are the developments done in 20 years’ tenure of BJP MLA Yogish Bhat? When seeing the cleanliness of the city, and projects like good roads and park, do you not think it is wrong to say J R Lobo did nothing for the city?
A: All the projects were initiated by Yogish Bhat. During his tenure, tenders were passed and approved by various departments. Now these projects are being inaugurated.
Q: If you are saying that projects now under implementation are the brainchild of Yogish Bhat, then you should accept that the projects inaugurated by Modi government are all are started by UPA or Congress governments in the past seventy years.
A: Projects related to road and water and other necessities are a continuous process. But the process of bringing a new project, a technical shift or a new vision, has not happened in Mangaluru. Before the 'Navothana' programme, we had roads of tar. There was no proper drainage system. Seeing this, MLA Yogish Bhat met CM Yeddyurappa and requested funds for concrete roads which are suitable for our geographical setup. By this, a focus shift happened there. But later it did not continue. Today, we have roads without footpath. We do not have proper drainage system. Under our tenure, we had even allotted land for Mangaluru bus stand. Then we lost power. But now, what happened to this bus stand? Why the MLA has not taken any initiative regarding this. Hence, I ask if J R Lobo has done anything commendable in his tenure.
Yogish Bhat did a wonderful job during his tenure in Mangaluru. Unfortunately, in his 20 year tenure, we had our own government for only five years. We started a programme called ‘Mangaluru One’. That is stopped now. As a public servant, J R Lobo knows the administrative system very well. But he never had any vision for the city.
Q: So that means if you become an MLA, you will fulfill the plans missed by J R Lobo?
A: Mangaluru city has a wonderful opportunity for development. Hence, BJP will always focus on the development of the city. Our MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has put forward a plan for the construction a high class road from Mangaluru to Bengaluru. This is already in planning stage.
Q: Let alone Bengaluru-Mangaluru road, it would be very helpful if Gurupur road is repaired.
A: Gurupur road is a highway project. The project of four lane road from Mangaluru to Karkala has already been planned and this project has received approval too. There are issues of land acquisition which comes under the state government. But the current government does not show any interest in land acquisition. Hence, being in power at the centre, if we come to power in the state, we will definitely solve all issues.
Q: When will the issues of communal problems in Mangaluru comes to an end? What vision you have to stop these incidents?
A: Law and order should be implemented to the fullest. It is very essential to maintain communal harmony. Political interference in police should not be tolerated. If this happens, automatically, major issues will come under control. We can see Islamic fundamentalism in its peak in the district. For its vote bank, Congress is polarising them. If we want development of Mangaluru, our administration should be based on development. Without any discrimination, police should handle criminals. At present, Ramanath Rai does interfere in every communal case and supports criminals.
See the incidents of cattle theft in the district. Targeting members of Hindu organisations and their murder is another major issue in our district. All these activities should come to a halt.
Q: Now as a young leader, anything new you will offer youngsters of the region?
A: We should stop traditional and silly politics. We should stop the political culture based on the polarization of a particular community, neglecting the Hindu community. BJP government brought law on cow slaughter. But the state government cancelled it without any consultation with the society. Recently, they issued an order that temples should be under the control of the government. Before issuing these types of orders, the government should think about its consequences. People holding responsible positions should think about social harmony. But from the past four and half years, nothing was done regarding the maintaining of harmony in society.
Q: What is your message to youngsters who want to enter politics?
A: Nowadays, politics is an essential part of the society. In Indian democracy, politics is a must. Hence, youth should come forward and join politics in large numbers. Good thinkers, talented, and kind-hearted individuals should enter politics. That will lead to a clean political system in the country. There is no shortcut in politics. There will be challenges all the way. Hence, youngsters should be actively involved in politics.