My political life is full of ‘struggle’: V. Sreenivasa Prasad
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My political life is full of ‘struggle’: V. Sreenivasa Prasad

March 17, 2024

[Continued from yesterday]

By S.B. Devaraj

Star of Mysore (SOM): What was the reason behind supporting Siddaramaiah, though you were with Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)?

Sreenivasa Prasad: Following the resignation of Siddaramaiah as Chamundeshwari MLA, by-election was necessitated to Chamundeshwari segment. Siddaramaiah was the Congress candidate and Shivabasappa was pitted from JD(S).

As the winning chances of Siddaramaiah appeared bleak, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Dharam Singh and Kagodu Thimmappa came to my house and explained about the ground reality. Siddaramaiah had also sought my support. I had some concern for Siddaramaiah who was a backward classes leader and announced my support to him. However, Siddaramaiah managed to win by a thin margin of 257 votes.

SOM: On your return to Assembly elections?

Prasad: Mallikarjun Kharge was the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President then and Oscar Fernandes, who was also my political godfather in Congress, was the Central Minister. Having won Lok Sabha elections for five terms, I didn’t have any more desire left to continue in politics.

But when the Assembly elections were declared in 2008 and Nanjangud Assembly Constituency became a SC Reserve seat, I had to contest on the back of pressure from various quarters.

Following the delimitation of Constituency, new Varuna segment was carved out and I convinced Siddaramaiah to contest from Varuna which was also considered as a safe seat for him. Siddaramaiah won against L. Revanasiddaiah and I also won the election.

SOM: Despite sharing a good relationship, what led to the split between you and Siddaramaiah?

Prasad: Following the vertical split in BJP, Congress got absolute majority with ease in 2013 Assembly elections. After a secret ballot conducted at Congress office, where majority of 80 percent of MLAs had voted in favour of Siddaramaiah he was made Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Leader. I had not asked for the Ministry, but I was inducted as a Revenue Minister.

After three years, Siddaramaiah expressed his intent to deliver effectively and wanted to revamp the Cabinet, to which we also agreed. But he chose to revamp the Cabinet as per his whims and dropped me from the Ministry citing my ill health as the reason. However, Kharge was not willing to drop me from the Cabinet. I was not even disappointed with the decision to drop me, but what pained me was the way I was shown doors without even showing a courtesy to discuss the matters with me.  After that, Priyank Kharge, the political novice and very younger to me by age, who had won the elections for the first time, had been inducted into the Cabinet in my place.

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It was the only reason for disappointment against Kharge and Siddaramaiah, with even the then KPCC President Parameshwara siding with them. Fed up of politics, I decided to resign as a MLA.

SOM: The developments following your resignation?

Prasad: Following my resignation as MLA, both Yediyurappa and H.D. Kumaraswamy came to my home to convince me to stay in politics. I finally decided to join BJP on the basis of the opinion of my followers at a Swabhimani Convention. But still, I didn’t want to contest the by-election, but I changed my decision and contested the by-polls at the bidding of Yediyurappa. However, money flowed like anything in that election.

Interestingly, Congress lacked candidates to contest against me in the by-election and fielded Kalale Keshavamurthy, JD(S) Taluk Unit President, who had lost two elections against me earlier. He was inducted into Congress, following the permission of JD(S) top brass and was declared as a candidate. R. Dhruvanarayan, who followed me into politics, also supported Keshavamurthy and conspired to defeat me at the end.

However, I was adamant and fielded my son-in-law B. Harshavardhan in 2018 Assembly elections from Nanjangud (SC Reserve) Constituency. I even extended my support to JD(S) candidate G.T. Devegowda in Chamundeshwari Constituency, where he defeated the sitting CM Siddaramaiah by a huge margin of 36,000 votes. However, Siddaramaiah managed to scrape through victory at Badami Constituency, but with a lesser margin.

Former MLA C. Guruswamy convinced me not to retire as a ‘Lost Politician’. Despite my failing health, I decided to contest previous Lok Sabha elections from Chamarajanagar in 2019 and was elected for the sixth term, trouncing Congress’ R. Dhruvanarayan.

SOM: What do you want to say about your political life that has come a full circle?

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Prasad: I feel satisfied as my life was full of struggle. People have showered love and affection towards me and I also have worked unblemished without any black mark in my 50-year-long public life.

SOM: With a vast political experience, how do you view the present political conditions?

Prasad: There is a change in mindset of both political parties and voters. The parties earlier had political commitment and ideologies. They were conducting themselves honestly with love and faith without any monetary influence. The winning candidates were aware of their limits, without resorting to corruption. Now, it is vice-versa with politics turning into a profitable business. Such is the mindset of voters that who pays more will get the vote.

However, still there is a section of voters who will not succumb to any inducements, but the number of voters who vote for cash is more, irrespective of Panchayat elections or Parliament.

One who spends on buying voters, looks for short cuts to rake in a moolah, with the voters left twitching their hands. It is inevitable to change the situation and everybody should understand the rights and purity of voting.

SOM: Any plans to record your long stint in politics?

Prasad: I have plans to record my experience as an MP and MLA for 27 years and eight years respectively. As an MP, I have been a witness to the style of administration of seven Prime Ministers from Indira Gandhi to Narendra Modi, which instantly comes into picture. Their personality and style of administration and my experience, are all etched in my memory. If my health permits, I will                      record them all.

SOM: What’s your take on the candidates announced for Mysuru-Kodagu and Chamarajanagar LS Constituencies. The political scenario of the country?

Prasad: I won’t comment about selection of candidates, but the decision has been taken by the party High Command after weighing the pros and cons. It seems NDA will gain majority with Modi returning as Prime Minister again, but I am not sure about the number of seats BJP could win in the State.

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