Bengaluru: With only a six month tenure left for him, newly elected BJP MP from Shivamogga, B.Y. Raghavendra wants to push the pending railway projects in the district and highway projects to completion. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Mr Raghavendra said former CM late S. Bangarappa’s charisma did not work in favour of his son and JD(S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa in the elections. He also defended his father and BJP state president B.S. Yeddyurappa for spending more time in Shivamogga for campaigning. The low voter turnout and the straight fight between him and JD(S) candidate Madhu were the main reasons for his reduced victory margin in the by-election, he claimed. Here are excerpts from the interview.
You will get only six months to represent the constituency, what can you deliver in such a short span of time?
I have decided to focus on completing the ongoing railway projects in Shivamogga district. These include the new railway line of Shivamogga Shikaripura-Ranebennur, doubling of Shivamogga- Birur line, providing one more intercity train service from Bengaluru to Shivamogga, completion of railway underpasses and level crossings. Besides, I would like to push for completion of ongoing highway projects including widening of Udupi-Kollur highway. Shivamogga-Harihar and Shivamogga-Shikaripura- Soraba highway projects. Since Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari has laid the foundation stone for the Sigandhur bridge, I will try to commence the construction of bridge. I have decided to review the functioning of the Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant (VISL) at Bhadravati and get it excluded from the disinvestment plan. I would also like to develop Shivamogga into a tourism hub.
Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a high voltage campaign, how did you manage to overcome the tough fight from JD(S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa?
The entire government machinery was deployed in Shivamogga just to defeat me. The chief minister, former CM and former PM camped in Shivamogga. The BJP cadre and leaders however stood by me with senior leaders, K.S. Eshwarappa and Rudregowda guiding me. Party national leader, Santhosh, party state organizing secretary Arunkumar and general secretary Ravikumar too campaigned in the constituency.
Did the charisma of former CM S. Bangarappa work in favour of the JD(S) candidate and his on Madhu Bangarappa? The results show that Madhu got more OBC votes than you.
Bangarappa was a backward class leader, but people still remember the fact that former PM H.D.Deve Gowda did injustice to him. In fact, the BJP honoured Mr. Bangarappa during his stint as a party MP. The results clearly show that Bangarappa followers supported me in the election.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, your father won by a margin of over 3.63 lakh votes in Shivamogga. Party leaders predicted that you will win by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes, but your victory margin fell to 52,000 votes. Why?
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, my father got 6,06,216 votes. JD(S) candidate Geetha Shivarajkumar secured 2,40,636 votes and Congress candidate Manjunath Bhandari got 2,42,911 votes. If the JD(S) and Congress candidates’ votes are put together, it would come to 4,83,547 votes and the BJP’s victory margin would be reduced to 1,22,669 votes. Besides, the total votes polled in 2014 was 11,29,008 while in the by-election, the total votes polled were only 10.15 lakh. The low percentage of voting, the straight fight between BJP and JD(S) and the failure of young BJP voters to reach voting booths, were the main reasons for the decline in my margin.
Shivamogga has eight Assembly constituencies and going by the voting pattern, your rival got a lead in three Assembly constituencies, two of which are represented by BJP MLAs. How did this happen?
JD(S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa obtained a lead in Sagar, Soraba and Bhadravathi Assembly constituencies. Of the eight Assembly constituencies, BJP won seven in May, 2018 except Bhadravathi. In Sagar, the Kagodu Thimmappa factor worked in favour of Madhu Bangarappa. In Soraba, the sympathy factor worked in favor of him, because he had lost the Assembly elections. And Bhadravathi is a stronghold of the Congress.
After your victory, party leader Banuprakash publicly criticized B.S.Yeddyurappa for his ‘autocratic’ style of functioning. Do you think opponents of Yeddyurappa worked against you in the by-election?
Not at all, soon after the elections were declared, my name was announced by BJP senior leader K.S.Eshwarappa. Mr Eshwarappa and Banuprakash worked hard for my victory. As regards the statement of Mr Banuprakash, the party state leadership will take a call, it is inappropriate for me to react to his statement.
Your father spent most of the time in Shivamogga rather than visit other constituencies, was it necessary for him to camp in Shivamogga so much?
During the 23-day campaign, my father campaigned in Shivamogga for 11 days and during the remaining 12 days, he was in Ballari, Mandya and Jamkhandi constituencies. Since it was a byelection, the entire government machinery was in Shivamogga and so my father felt his presence was very much needed to retain the seat.
All these years, you have been involved in the election campaign of your father in Shikaripura as well as Shivamogga. But this time you depended more on your father to retain the seat, is it not true?
To win the hearts of the people, first we have to win the hearts of the people in our home (Shivamogga), so my father considered it necessary to devote his energy to the constituency. Moreover, the state government did everything possible to defeat me, including distributing money among voters. Former PM H.D. Deve Gowda publicly said, he needed only 48 hours to destroy the BJP base in Shivamogga. We could sense that JD(S) and Congress leaders had joined hands to defeat me in Shivamogga.
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