Public response to me beyond expectations: M. Lakshmana
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Public response to me beyond expectations: M. Lakshmana

April 23, 2024

The staunch support of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for Congress candidate M. Lakshmana in the Mysuru-Kodagu Constituency — also Siddaramaiah’s home turf — has transformed the contest into an intriguing battle. Here, the former finds himself in a heated race against BJP’s candidate Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the scion of the erstwhile Mysore royal family.

Despite both Yaduveer and Lakshmana being political newcomers, it is noteworthy that the 59-year-old engineer-turned-politician Lakshmana is leveraging the CM’s popularity and the traditional Congress voter base.

Presenting himself as a contender in Vokkaliga-dominated Constituency, Lakshmana has made this seat a matter of prestige for Siddaramaiah where Congress is keen on presenting the Constituency as a gift to Siddaramaiah.

Star of Mysore spoke to Lakshmana to delve into his vision and unique characteristics of the Constituency. Excerpts…

By SBD

Star of Mysore (SOM): How did you secure the Congress ticket?

M. Lakshmana: I’ve been a dedicated Congress party worker for years. As the party spokesperson, I’ve targeted Opposition parties and leaders while staunchly defending Congress leaders. In any election, there are many aspirants within a party. I was one of 20 aspirants and the party short-listed me along with District Congress President Dr. B.J. Vijaykumar. Finally, the Congress High Command      selected me.

SOM: How has the public responded to your campaign?

Lakshmana: The public response has exceeded my initial expectations. Overall, I can confidently say that Congress has a strong chance of winning the seat.

SOM: Were you prepared to face BJP MP Prathap Simha, whom you had consistently criticised?

Lakshmana: Yes, I was preparing to contest against Prathap Simha and defeat him. But I never personally opposed him. My criticism has always been directed at his actions and political ideologies. I challenged the MP when he claimed sole credit for bringing projects to the Constituency.

Despite this, Simha remains a friend of mine. While I have criticised him, I have never insulted him or launched personal attacks. I anticipated facing Simha as he was the sitting BJP MP. However, the BJP denied the ticket to Simha.

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SOM: What impact will guarantees have?

Lakshmana: The Congress unveiled five pre-poll guarantees before last year’s Assembly polls, which greatly influenced the election outcome in our favour. These guarantees will have a similar impact on the LS polls.

SOM: You haven’t previously publicised your caste, but now you are flaunting it everywhere, especially with the ‘Gowda’ after your name.

Lakshmana: I didn’t create a situation where I had to showcase my caste             identity. The sitting BJP MP, Prathap Simha, frustrated at missing the ticket, began accusing me of not being a genuine Vokkaliga and playing the caste card for votes. I’ve never resorted to using my caste for political gain. I am the son of Muddulingaiah from Kuluvanahalli along the National Highway in Nelamangala taluk. Simha can visit there to verify my caste. I’ve clarified the accusations made by the MP. Perhaps Simha forgot how he arrived at the RSS Office ‘Madhava Krupa’ in an autorickshaw after being announced as the BJP candidate for the Mysuru-Kodagu LS seat in 2014. I won’t dwell on him as he’s no longer in the race.

SOM: The caste factor could be significant.

Lakshmana: I didn’t seek the Congress ticket based on caste, nor will I seek votes along those lines. My appeal to voters is for a secular and people-friendly candidate. I am confident in the people’s support. Simultaneously, I’m asking voters whether they prefer a Royal family member as their MP or a common man like me who is accessible to them.

SOM: There is a notion that this election is more about Siddaramaiah’s prestige than your candidacy.

Lakshmana: Yes, I acknowledge that this election holds significant importance for Siddaramaiah and as a leader from this region and the CM, it is indeed a matter of prestige. That is why, the party workers and leaders are actively involved in the campaign, working hard for victory.

SOM: There are reports that the results will impact CM’s leadership.

Lakshmana: These claims are baseless narratives spread by the BJP.

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SOM: Are you concerned that traditional Congress votes might shift to Yaduveer?

Lakshmana: The country has seen the outcomes of electing members from royal families. Voters are no longer swayed by sentiments; they don’t want to be misled.

SOM: You mentioned that losing is like death to you. Can you elaborate?

Lakshmana: I’ve faced defeat in four elections: The 2008 Assembly polls, the South Graduates Constituency polls in 2010 and 2012, and in 2018 from the South Teachers Constituency. Each time, I lost by a small margin, which has been quite disheartening. My statement about ‘losing is like death’ stems from the frustration and disappointment of these past electoral setbacks.

SOM: Besides development, what plans do you have for the welfare of the poor, farmers and youth?

Lakshmana: As an MP, I don’t have direct access to exclusive funds for projects. However, I will use my position to highlight and address the issues and grievances of the people. I have a specific vision and mission for Mysuru and I will make sincere and continuous efforts towards it. I aim to work in perfect coordination with party workers and authorities alike.

SOM: Do you have a political role model or mentor?

Lakshmana: I have several role models, rather than specific godfathers. My role models include CM Siddaramaiah, Dy.CM D.K. Shivakumar, AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge, and senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. I have a particular admiration for Siddaramaiah, which transcends politics.

SOM: What message do you have for the electorate regarding the importance of voting?

Lakshmana: I strongly urge everyone to exercise their right to vote without fail. Voting is a fundamental right for all citizens. Authorities are striving for an 80 percent voter turnout and every voter must participate responsibly. Let’s fulfil our duty as responsible citizens.

HIGHLIGHT

I’ve faced defeat in four elections: The 2008 Assembly polls, South Graduates Constituency polls in 2010 and 2012, and also in 2018 from the South Teachers Constituency. Each time, I lost by a small margin, which has been quite disheartening.

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