Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (JD)
Udupi, Jun 11: From winning the 2013 assembly elections in his debut as MLA to holding such portfolios as minister of state for fisheries, minister of youth empowerment and sports and also the Udupi district-in-charge minister, and being rated as the best legislator in Karnataka according to an NGO’s survey, Pramod Madhwaraj rose in his political career in a very short time.
However, in the recently concluded assembly elections, Madhwaraj lost to Raghupathi Bhat of BJP by a margin of 12,000 votes.
In an exclusive interview with daijiworld, he speaks on why he lost the elections despite his popularity all over Karnataka state, and on many other issues.
DW: Recently you tweeted that not a single incident of communal violence took place during your term as district in-charge minister, but immediately after you demitted office, a Muslim was killed by Bajrang Dal and police together. Why did you make such a statement?
Pramod: Two years ago, when I was appointed in-charge minister of Udupi district, I had told the police department to be more vigilant about communal incidents. I had told them that not a single communal violence case must be reported in the district. I had warned them that sub-inspector of the police station concerned will be held responsible if any communal death case was reported. The police constables were extra vigilant and investigated issues and tried to gain maximum information in order to avert such incidents.
But after BJP MLAs won in all the 5 constituencies of Udupi district these anti-social elements have started to assume that now there's no one to control them as the MLAs are from their side. During my tenure, Udupi district stood first in law and order in the state. Earlier in Udupi, such kinds of communal incidents did not take place. Creating communal violence for political profit is condemnable. I congratulate the superintendent of police for conducting impartial investigation into the case.
DW: What is your opinion about Congress losing all 5 constituencies in Udupi district?
Pramod: Vinay Kumar Sorake, Gopal Poojary and I have done good work as MLAs of our respective constituencies. If people had voted considering our work, surely we would have won the three constituencies. People have not considered development, rather they believed false allegations about our candidates, about our party. BJP spread false rumours through social media and misguided people. It is unfortunate that many people believe that WhatsApp messages are 100% true. BJP took advantage of this and spread false messages.
DW: Do you think portraying Siddaramaiah as 'anti-Hindu' affected the poll results in Udupi, or 'Modi wave' also worked in Udupi also?
Pramod: Nowhere did BJP campaign asking people to vote for Raghupathi Bhat. They have campaigned in the name of Narendra Modi. Their campaigning style was as if Modi himself was contesting in Udupi. Siddaramaiah has not discriminated against anyone based on caste or religion. His 'Anna Bhagya', BPL card schemes have benefitted all people, not only Muslims and Christians. He is a straightforward person. He believes in Goddess Chamundashwari and hence depicting him as an atheist is wrong.
DW: By forming coalition government don’t you think Siddaramaiah is acting against what he had said during pre-poll campaigns?
Pramod: When there is a hung assembly, it is the responsibility of the political parties to form coalition and govern. In many cases, JD(S)-BJP has formed the coalition. In case of Kashmir, BJP has formed coalition government with PDP, a party that supports Pakistan directly. BJP has got the deputy CM post. BJP says Pandits have been chased out of Kashmir, but from last 4 years, BJP is ruling in both Kashmir and the centre, so it could have called back the Pandits, but it has not. PDP and BJP have completely different ideologies. If they can form coalition, then why can’t we? BJP-JD(S) had formed coalition government earlier. They were also ideologically different parties. If this was right, we are also right.
DW: There were rumours about Congress trying to get votes of minorities by withdrawing cases against them?
Pramod: The sole weapon BJP has against us is saying that Congress is minority-friendly. Modi came to power saying they are pro-Hindu government, but what special provisions have been done to Hindus? What special scheme has been implemented for the development of Hindus by central government? What problems did Hindus face during my term? Praveen Poojary was murdered by Hindu activists. Raghupathi Bhat too said that the accused as well as the victim were both Hindus. These names are not included in Shobha Karandlaje’s name list of murdered Hindu activists. Siddaramaiah had asked reports about the false cases registered on minority persons. But as the issue was controversial, immediately he amended the order and also asked to submit reports about false cases on Hindus also. Selective attack on Congress by the BJP through social media has hit us. There is a dedicated team to create these types of fake messages.
DW: BJP has declared that they will win all 35 wards in municipal elections. How is Congress preparing for municipal elections?
Pramod: Udupi municipality has not seen such development in its entire history. In the last five years, the municipality provided water supply to the citizens in every situation. During BJP’s term, municipalities were struggling to provide proper water facility in summer. At that time, I had provided free water facility using my personal expenses. We have failed a bit in maintaining the streetlight facility as the contractor was not responsive. Providing water from Varahi is also in final stage of completion. Raghupathi Bhat had only implemented the project but we have completed it.
DW: You were the number 1 MLA in the state. You had drafted development work of Rs 2,060 crore in Udupi. But BJP said that it is false. Jayaprakash Hegde alleged that the work done in his tenure was also included in your draft. What do you say about this?
Pramod: On the basis of data given by the government officials we have drafted the Rs 2,060 crore development work. We have not created it. Hegde may be talking about the CRF fund. MLA recommends the CRF fund. The money of CRF fund belongs to Karnataka. MLAs decide which roads should be developed under this fund. Manamohan Singh -led UPA government had sanctioned Surathkal - Kundapur national highway. It is my responsibility towards people to show the development works that need to be undertaken by me. If needed, Raghupathi Bhat can check the information given by us with departments.
DW: What are your views about 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
Pramod: In the last general elections, BJP had got only 31% of the vote share. That means 69% people have voted against BJP. Today, hate politics by Narendra Modi is resulting in raids on political rivals and many are affected in other ways. Because of this, many of the alliance parties of BJP like Shiv Sena, TDP and others have started acting against BJP. There are possibilities that in the next general elections, non-BJP parties may come together and form the government. In the recent by-polls, BJP’s performance has declined compared to its performance in 2014 elections. This shows that people in the north are acting against BJP. In South India also, BJP has no such strong base. If Congress-JD(S) contest jointly in Karnataka we can get up to 17 seats out of the 28 in the next elections.
DW: What do you think is the reason for your unexpected defeat?
Pramod: In 100 voters hardly 30 of them consider development as their prime objective to vote for a certain candidate. There are many other factors beside development which a voter considers before voting to a certain candidate. Some of my development works like introduction of NURM bus has affected private bus operators. This has also been a factor for gaining fewer votes. Many people in the constituency have not cast their vote.
DW: What is your next move?
Pramod: I’ll continue my social service, as earlier. I’ll see what I can do from my side for the people. If anyone needs some help in government departments, I am ready to help them. If the elected members involve in corruption or anti-people activities, I will be the first one to protest.
Watch full interview