Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (ANK)
Mangaluru, Mar 11: Bellipady Ramanath Rai, better known as B Ramanath Rai entered politics when he became a member of the Indian National Congress. He has represented the Bantwal constituency of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly since 1985 until he lost it to his cousin B Nagaraj Shetty in 2004. Rai, however won the same constituency in 2008. In his long career as a legislator in the Karnataka Assembly, he has served as minister holding various portfolios. He also won the 2013 Assembly election from Bantwal and served as minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology. He lost the last elections he fought from the same constituency in 2018.
Rai in an exclusive interview on Daijiworld 24x7's 'Rough and Right' programme with Daijiworld editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike, spoke about his preparations to face the next elections and a number of other issues.
DW: You have served as minister for five years under Siddaramaiah government and did a good job. Your loss was a shocker for everyone. Do you agree that you lost Bantwal constituency as you tried to appease a particular community?
Rai: Misinformation. Congress is a secular party which treats everyone equally. I have won six times and lost twice in Bantwal constituency. The misinformation of appeasing one community is out of reality. One section says that I have not done anything for minorities while some say I appease minority. There is lot of difference between Congress and BJP. Congress gives chance to candidates of every religion or caste to contest polls, while the BJP very rarely gives election tickets to Muslims and Christians. Congress provides social justice irrespective of religion, while other parties spread misinformation.
DW: Did you ever introspect your loss?
Rai: I did sincere work during my tenure as an MLA and minister. When election was close, misinformation cost me Bantwal seat. Misinformation like cancellation of midday meal grant of Kalladka school, Polali temple Dwajastamba and St Aloysius College road issue led to my loss.
DW: There are two years for the next elections. How is Ramanath Rai preparing for his 9th assembly elections?
Rai: I am in constant touch with public. Even during the Covid pandemic, I have distributed most number of kits personally to people. When I was an MLA, the district had seen the highest number regularisation of houses built on government land in my constituency. I am confident that people will once again stand with me.
DW: SDPI has been a big headache for the Congress in the district. In the last elections, Congress somehow managed to convince them to withdraw from the elections. What about the next elections?
Rai: I never asked the SDPI to withdraw their candidates in the last election. This is another misinformation.
DW: The SDPI is growing at a rapid pace. They tasted success in the panchayat polls. Do you still doubt their growth?
Rai: People will realise in future. As many as 32,000 Congress backed candidates have won, while 100 or 200 SDPI candidates emerged winners. As we all know that BJP is in state and centre. If BJP loses, Congress will come to power. It will be vice versa in both centre and state.
DW: People say that purchasing Congress MLAs is very easy.
Rai: BJP needs MLAs from the party which is in power. It is wrong to blame only Congress. They even brought MLAs in the north eastern states. BJP does not have any belief in the democratic system.
DW: Before elections, MLAs are seen moving from one party to another. But a fresh MLA after being elected, within a year, moves to another party. That too huge number of MLAs are doing so and hence the Congress has already lost two states. If this continues, where is the future of Congress heading?
Rai: The public should decide if it is right or wrong to cheat voters for the sake of money and power. The defectors may be proud to be ministers, but in reality people will not respect them.
DW: In the state, who is your leader? Siddaramaiah or D K Shivakumar?
Rai: There is no debate on leadership. In the five years of Congress government, we did a tremendous job in terms of development and introduction of pro-people schemes. Now we are in opposition. We will work as per the directions of the high command. So there is no confusion in leadership.
DW: Do you think the Congress has not encashed on BJP’s sleaze CD row?
Rai: People have already seen it, so there is nothing to speak about it. Six ministers have already approached the court to safeguard themselves and so the public has now realised the truth.
Watch Full Interview: