Hindutva, not our candidates, will win BJP the elections, says Eshwarappa

K Giriprakash & Poornima Joshi Shivamogga | Updated on May 01, 2018

KS ESHWARAPPA, BJP candidate, Shivamogga city


KS Eshwarappa has risen through the ranks to become a key member of the BJP’s Karnataka unit. Once considered an alternative power centre to BS Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa later mended fences with BSY following the intervention of the party’s central command. In an exclusive interview with BusinessLine, Eshwarappa, who hails from the Kuruba community, says his party banks more on the Hindutva agenda than on candidates to win the elections.

Shivamogga and Shikaripura are perhaps the only constituencies considered safe for the BJP. With Kumar Bangarappa being given a seat at the last moment, there has been a lot of heartburn among the party rank and file.

If we have to accommodate the right candidate, then one has to make sacrifices. We have not given the seat to a nobody [but] someone whom we believe is going to be helpful for us. You must understand that in our organisation candidate is not important, the party is. When I contested elections for the first time in 1989 against a heavyweight like KH Srinivas, who was considered the future chief ministerial candidate of the Congress, I defeated him because of the cadre and the backing of the party. Hindutva and the organisation are the only important criteria here. People will vote for the BJP symbol.

There is a feeling that the BJP and the JD(S) have some kind of an understanding in several seats across the State. In Chamundeshwari, the BJP has nominated a candidate who could not even win a taluk panchayat election, whereas the JD(S) has a strong candidate there.

When I contested in 1989, the situation was the same. Everyone felt that our party has fielded a weak candidate and hence KH Srinivas will win. But see what happened. It is the same situation in Chamundeshwari too. Our candidate will definitely win there.

But we understand there is some level of understanding between the BJP and the JD (S)...

Our opponents will keep saying these things. Tell me what was the reason for Siddaramaiah to go to Badami? He keeps claiming that the BJP is communal. If he is not communal then he should be able to win from any seat. Why should he choose only a Kuruba-dominated constituency? There is no pre-poll pact between the two parties. Our workers have faith in our candidates.

So, will you not even have a post-poll alliance if your party falls short of a majority?

There is absolutely no question of that. We are going to win at least 150 seats, and as we get closer to the elections, we are confident of winning more. Chanakya (referring to party president Amit Shah) has toured the State. Now, Chandragupta (Modi) will tour the State and then you will see a complete swing towards our party. The Congress keeps saying that we have to import leaders from outside to campaign for us, but that party doesn’t even have a leader from outside the State to campaign for them. Wherever Rahul Gandhi has campaigned, the Congress has lost there.

Is there still some animosity between BJP workers and Yeddyurappa as he had left the party and then returned?

When Yeddyurappaji went out, he was able to win six seats and we won 40 seats. If you combine the number of votes polled by his party and ours in Shivamogga constituency during the last elections, it was much more than those of the Congress. But now that he has returned, we have joined hands together. We are more like milk and honey. There are no differences now.

So, who will be the chief minister if your party wins the elections?

Our party President has made it clear that Yeddyurappa will be the chief minister. Anyone who questions that decision will be considered a traitor.

Do you think the Lingayat card will work in Shivamogga as the community has now been accorded a religion status?

In Shivamogga, these things won’t work. Only Hindutva will win. Even Muslims and Christians are supporting us. The Muslims are happy with our decision on [triple] talaq.

What impact do you think someone like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will make by campaigning here?

He is one of the important leaders at the national level. Adityanathji is not only a politician but also a saint. All of us, and our voters, have a very good opinion of him.

How do you view the manifesto of the Congress?

The Congress manifesto says there will be more benefits for the widows. The fact is our national party has already declared those benefits. So where is the question of giving the same benefits? It says the SC / STs will get laptops. The Congress Government has been promising this during every budget of theirs and yet there has been no action on that front. Siddaramaiah keeps promising but doesn’t deliver. He kept talking about the achievements of the freedom fighter, Sangoli Rayanna but after he came to power, he didn’t even bother to visit the place where Sangoli Rayanna was hanged by the British. He is out to divide the Hindus. He sought to pass an amendment to take over all the Hindu mutts. Can he dare to do the same with the Christian and Muslim places of worships?

Hasn’t the BJP compromised on ethics by giving seats to two of the Reddy brothers?

Somashekhar Reddy doesn’t have any case against him. Why should he be denied a seat just because he is the brother of Janardhan Reddy? Janardhan Reddy has been asked not to campaign for his brother. So, there will be no problem there.

Published on April 30, 2018

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