Months ago, Karnataka [ Images ] Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa [ Images ] had said he did not believe in dragging his family into politics. Months later, it was he who made sure that his son BY Ragavendra was given a ticket from the Shimoga parliamentary constituency. Expectedly, Ragavendra's candidacy ruffled many feathers in the party.
Vicky Nanjappa caught up with Ragavendra at Shimoga where he spoke about his chances and the controversy that surrounded his candidature.
How confident are you about winning your first election?
I am extremely confident of winning. Having interacted extensively with voters, I get the feeling that they will elect me.
It is clear that you have not been chosen on merit. Instead, you got a ticket thanks to your father, isn't it?
I am a first-time candidate and I have a long way to go. I am eager to learn and address people's problems. I hope that you people stop focusing on the controversy and move on to bigger issues.
Several BJP leaders have turned hostile because of your nomination. How are you coping with this, especially during the campaigning?
Nobody is hostile. My party workers have been extremely helpful and cooperative. How else do you think I managed to conduct 600 public meetings in such a short period? There are one lakh BJP workers with me now and they are doing everything under the sun to ensure my victory. We have gone to every village in the constituency and have understood the problem.
What has been your primary focus during the election campaign?
The BJP government's success in the state and the United Progressive Alliance's [ Images ] failure at the Centre. I have been constantly connecting with the youth of the constituency who I believe are the future. I am modeling myself as an icon of the youth and I keep telling them that I don't just promise, I deliver too.
How do you see BJP's chances in the state?
I expect at least 25 seats for the BJP.
Isn't that too ambitious? Your party president Sadananda Gowda told us the BJP would win 20 seats this time.
Things have changed. I can sense that the voter desperately wants the BJP to come back to power in the Centre. I am sure the BJP will win 25 seats.
Does being Yeddyurappa's son help in anyway?
Yes, it does. I am what I am because of my father. He has been a guiding force for me and he is my hero. I have a lot of respect for my father and he is the one who has been helping me build my image as a good leader.
Without his backing, you could not have managed a ticket from Shimoga.
That is very unfair. I have taken my father's help to understand the problems in the constituency. To be very honest, I did not get a ticket because of my father. The party saw that I was capable and through a very democratic process I was selected to fight the elections. And for the last time, I am telling you that there is no controversy surrounding my candidature.
Your father played the Lingayat card in the assembly elections. What about you? Are you playing a similar card?
Let me clarify. My father did not play the caste card. The party managed to secure votes from all voters irrespective of caste. During my campaign, I, too, am not playing the caste card. The final results of the elections will prove to you what I am saying. The BJP is not a party only for Lingayats. I will bag all-caste votes and I am telling you that 60 per cent of the one lakh Muslims in Shimoga, too, will vote for me.
You are taking on S Bangarappa, who has an impressive record in Shimoga. Do you feel nervous?
Bangarappa has absolutely no chance. I am not saying this, it is the voter who is saying this. This will be his last election. My father proved to him during the Karnataka assembly elections that it is not sufficient if you contest on a nostalgic factor. I will do to Bangarappa what my father did to him during the assembly elections.