Congress candidate for the prestigious Nanjangud Assembly constituency Kalale Keshavamurthy has become a 24X7 politician these days with day-long political rallies and a series of late evening meetings with his supporters. The Congress party, especially Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, has banked on him to steer the party to victory in the by-election that is scheduled to be held on Apr. 9. Star of Mysore caught up with Keshavamurthy for a brief interview. Excerpts.
Star of Mysore (SOM): How has the campaign been so far and what is the response?
Kalale Keshavamurthy: I have been campaigning since the last 24 days or so and the response is overwhelming. In the rural areas, people are impressed with the programmes implemented by the Congress and men and women have voluntarily participated in Congress rallies.
SOM: The entire Cabinet and other Ministers are campaigning for you.
Kalale Keshavamurthy: The campaign is spearheaded by Chief Minister Siddharamaiah who conducted rallies and road shows on Mar. 31, Apr. 2, 4 and 6. His rallies in villages have received tremendous response. The CM has released more than Rs. 500 crore for the development of Nanjangud since the last six months. Development works and a transparent administration will ensure my victory.
SOM: You have lost the previous elections and this time how sure are you about winning?
Kalale Keshavamurthy: This is my third election. In the last election, Congress, BJP, JD(S) and KJP contested and this led to split in the votes. This time, however, it is a straight fight between Congress and BJP and I will win with a big margin.
SOM: Is money released by the State Government in the last 6 months only factor to ensure your victory?
Kalale Keshavamurthy: As mentioned earlier, this is my third election. Over the years I have developed a close bond with the voters and this also will help me win. I know all the villages and its people personally and this will give me the winning edge. Normally, caste and political parties play a major role in an election. Here in Nanjangud, I have received support from across the sections irrespective of caste and religion.
SOM: JD(S) has not entered this election. Is it to help you or JD(S) could not find a candidate?
Kalale Keshavamurthy: JD(S) has mentored me all these years and I cannot forget that party. Though I am with Congress now, I will win the election with the help of JD(S), my parent party. As JD(S) mentored me, I have been recognised by a national party like Congress.
By staying neutral in the Nanjangud by-election, the JD(S) has indeed helped me. Moreover, as the entire Congress has taken up the responsibility of ensuring my victory, I don’t feel like an outsider.
SOM: There are reports that the wife of former Minister M. Mahadev (Benki Mahadev) has extended her support to you.
Kalale Keshavamurthy: Yes. Mahadev’s wife Rajamma has assured me of support. Actually, the late leader (Mahadev) wanted to see me as an MLA but fate willed otherwise. Realising this, Rajamma has supported me.