HomeEnglish NewsTop News StoriesKharge as Congress president won’t impact Karnataka election: BJYM chief Tejasvi Surya...

Kharge as Congress president won’t impact Karnataka election: BJYM chief Tejasvi Surya | India News

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Karnataka is the only southern state where the BJP is in office. Assembly election will likely be held in the state in May 2023. Power equations had changed dramatically since the 2018 assembly election. The president of the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Tejasvi Surya, who is also the party MP from Bangalore South, said the BJP will retain office because the people realise the benefits of a double engine government. In an interview to Kumar Shakti Shekhar, he also said Mallikarjun Kharge as the new Congress president will not have any impact on the forthcoming election because the people know that “the real power lies with the Nehru-Gandhi family”. Excerpts:
You come from Karnataka which goes to polls in the first half of 2023. In the last election which threw a hung assembly, the BJP emerged as the single largest party having won 104 out of 224 seats. It fell short of an absolute majority by nine seats. The Congress and JD(S) forged a post-poll alliance and formed a coalition government which fell in July 2019 after several of their MLAs resigned. The BJP government led by BS Yediyurappa was installed as a result of the so-called ‘Operation Lotus’ which was later replicated in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020. What are the BJP’s chances of retaining office in your state in the upcoming assembly election?
Karnataka has witnessed unprecedented development and growth in the last three-and-a-half years under the BJP. The numbers speak for themselves. Whether it is the investment that the state has received, the job creation that has happened, the revenue that has grown, the size of the budget that has increased and the per capita income of people that has increased, Karnataka today stands right at the top when it comes to the south of India. Bangalore is the city with the highest per capita income in the whole of the country. So, people have witnessed development. They have benefitted from the prosperity that the BJP government has created. I am extremely sure that when elections come, the BJP will be back to power because the people have realised the benefit of the double engine government.
Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi, leader of opposition in the Karnataka assembly Siddaramaiah and state Congress president DK Shivakumar accuse the Basavaraj S Bommai government of being a “40 per cent commission” dispensation. How much damage will this cause to the BJP government?
The ones who are levelling these allegations, such as Rahul Gandhi, are themselves out on bail on corruption charges. People who live in glass houses must not throw stones at others. Secondly, Mr Siddaramaiah as the chief minister destroyed and dismantled the Lokayukta, the anti-corruption watchdog of the state. He created a parallel, toothless and illegal institution called the Anti–corruption Bureau (ACB). Very recently, the Karnataka high court declared this institution as unconstitutional. Those who are making allegations against the BJP government are either out on bail on corruption charges or have a track record of having systematically destroyed anti-corruption institutions in the state. Further, if at all they have any documents or evidence to prove any wrongdoing by the BJP government, why have they not gone to any court or authority such as the police, CVC or CAG to this date? They approach no authority but call press conferences and run social media campaigns to create this fake narrative. If at all they have even a shred of credible evidence against this government, I urge them, it is their duty to move court and ensure that those who have committed corruption are sent to jail.
The new Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also comes from Karnataka and belongs to the Scheduled Caste (SC) category. How much impact will he make in the forthcoming assembly election?
The voters are very cognisant of what real empowerment is and what tokenism is. They know that though Mr Kharge has been appointed as the president of the Congress party, the real power lies with the Nehru-Gandhi family. Therefore, no real empowerment of Dalits has taken place. Whereas in the BJP, from panchayat and Parliament to the President, the BJP has really empowered the leaders coming from the Dalit community. The party has ensured that the common Dalit is benefitted from the schemes of the government. So, there is not going to be any impact in Karnataka of this because the people know that the remote is with somebody else. During my campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where assembly elections concluded earlier this month, I never saw any poster of the Congress party having Kharge ji’s photographs. This is a clear indication.
A border dispute is brewing between the Karnataka and Maharashtra governments. Incidentally, the BJP is in power in both states. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who comes from the BJP, have pledged support to the Marathi-speaking people of Belagavi in Karnataka. Do you see this snowballing into a major conflict in the coming days?
The honourable Union home minister has taken charge of this issue. At the very right time, he has convened a meeting of the two chief ministers. He has ensured that there is peace and amity in the way the issue is going to be dealt with. When a leader of the stature of Shri Amit Shah takes charge, people from both the states expect an impartial and just outcome. The people of Karnataka have full faith that their interest will be protected by the Modi government. The BJP will ensure that the interest of the Kannadigas will be protected.
The BJP unit of Karnataka suffers from major factionalism. Moreover, Yediyurappa is being sidelined despite being a member of the BJP’s highest decision-making body, the parliamentary board. How much will this impact the outcome of the assembly election?
Your question itself has the answer. You said that Yediyurappa ji is a member of the parliamentary board. How can the leader of the stature of Yediyurappa be sidelined? Second, he is one of the tallest leaders of Karnataka who has helped the BJP grow to what it is today. Many young people, including someone like me, are the beneficiaries of the hard work that Yediyurappa has put in. No BJP karyakarta in Karnataka will believe that the party leadership will sideline a senior leader like Yediyurappa. These are fake narratives that the opposition tries to build in Karnataka because they have nothing positive to contribute.
There is a tussle between the BJP and the Congress over Tipu Sultan. The former Karnataka government, under Siddaramaiah as chief minister, and the Congress party even now celebrate Tipu Jayanti. On the other hand, the BJP considers Tipu as a tyrant and a bigot. What is your take on Tipu Sultan?
History is very clear as to who and what Tipu was. The primary sources of history from the time of Tipu have made it very clear that he was a bigot and a fanatic. He tried to destroy and erase the native indigenous culture. He tried to forcefully impose his religion and language on the people of Karnataka. Unfortunately, the Congress tries to deny this historical reality because they want to pander to their vote banks. The people of Karnataka gave a reply to Tipu enthusiast Siddaramaiah in the previous election. If the same enthusiasm towards Tipu continues, the people will give a befitting reply one more time.
The adult franchise age is 18 years while the age to contest an assembly or Lok Sabha election is 25. Moreover political awareness is growing among young people. Since you represent the youth of the BJP, do you favour lowering of age for contesting?
I think, more than reducing the age to contest, the priority must be to encourage young people to go out and vote. We see that a large number of young people are going out and voting. It is a healthy sign that they are so much interested in democracy. In many states at the municipal level, the age for contesting is already 21 years. By the time someone finishes education and comes out of college 21 or 25 are a good age to have the required experience to have seen the world enough. I think the Constitution and the founding fathers of the Constitution, after quite a deliberation, thought of 25 years as the ripe age to contest. It is the right mix of young spirit and also some adequate experience required to navigate the waters of politics and administration.

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