Karnataka benefited immensely from Modi govt, says former state minister

K Sudhakar said the Congress government was pushing the state into a debt crisis

Former Karnataka minister K Sudhakar Former Karnataka minister K Sudhakar

Former Karnataka minister K Sudhakar has been steadily rising in the BJP since he joined the party in 2019, leaving Congress. Being a trained doctor, he was readily picked up as cabinet minister for health and medical education in the BJP government. When the Covid struck, he was actively involved in tackling the pandemic. During the 2023 assembly polls, he was even made manifesto committee convenor. However, he suffered a setback during the state polls. But that did not deter the party, as the 50-year-old was again picked up as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from Chikkaballapura seat. A good show here may poise him for a new role at the centre. The WEEK caught up with him during the campaign. Excerpts from the interview.

Please tell us about your constituency and issues in this election, particularly the state.

My constituency Chikkaballapura is unique in terms of its strategic location. All eight assembly segments in the constituency are within 100 km of Bengaluru. So, there is a huge potential to develop towns like Chikkaballapura, Devanahalli, Doddabbalaura, Nelamangala and Hosakote as satellite towns. This will not only decongest Bengaluru but also provide jobs for youth locally.

With no perennial source of water, the people of the Bayalusemee region have been longing for a permanent solution for their irrigation and drinking water needs for several decades. The Yettinahole project, planned in 2008 and started in 2013, is seen as a ray of hope for Bayalusemee's water woes. However, even after a decade, the project has not seen the light of the day. Speeding up the implementation of the Yettinahole project and bringing a separate national project will be my top priority. A lot of farmers in my constituency are dependent on floriculture and horticulture. Setting up food processing units and getting a National Flower Board is on my to-do list.

When it comes to the state, Karnataka has immensely benefited from PM Modi's government during the last 10 years. Be it railways, highways, airports, housing for all, tap water connection to every household through Jal Jeevan mission, health insurance through Ayushman Bharat, Kisan Samman for farmers, Kannadigas have immensely benefitted from the Centre. Moreover, the PM has provided a corruption-free, people-oriented, development-focused governance in the last 10 years. India's stature has increased on the global stage. The alliance with JDS has further strengthened BJP and Karnataka will give a historic mandate for NDA in this election.

2) How do you look at the one year of the Congress government in the state? Has it delivered on its guarantees?

Karnataka Congress is a divided house and hence Congress can never give a stable government. Congress guarantees have made the state go bankrupt leaving no money for development. This is not our allegation, the DCM and CM's financial advisor have themselves admitted that guarantees have become a burden and there is no money for development.

In Siddaramaiah's first term, Karnataka's debt rose from Rs 1,39,000 cr to Rs. 2,86,790 cr, in just five years. The annual interest burden on the state shot up from Rs 8,500 cr to Rs. 16,208 cr leaving a debt burden of Rs 44,000 on every citizen. His second term is also pushing the state into a serious debt crisis. That's why we are demanding the government release a white paper on the state's finances.

3) The BJP has entrusted you with key responsibilities. You have seen both the Congress and the BJP. What difference do you find between the two parties?

I am grateful to the party's leadership for entrusting me with this responsibility. It's truly an honour and a great opportunity to serve people under the leadership of PM Modiji. I feel it's a recognition of my hard work in the last 4.5 years to build the party from the grassroots in the Bayaluseeme region. 

The BJP is a party which recognises merit. It is a cadre-based party with certain principles and value systems. Congress on the other hand is a dynastic party under the control of one family. Look at Karnataka itself. In about 18 out of 28 seats, Congress has given tickets to dynasts and most of them are either children or family members of sitting ministers. Even in Chikkaballpura, the candidate is the son of a former minister. People will reject this dynasty politics.

4.)The assembly elections were held a year ago. What is the political situation now?

I have never seen any government lose its popularity in just 10 months of coming to power. The Congress government has miserably failed Karnataka on all fronts and if elections are held today, the Congress will not even cross 50 seats. 

The Congress won assembly elections on the plank of guarantees and the Congress' greed for power has pushed a flourishing state like Karnataka to the brink of financial bankruptcy. Despite the challenges imposed by the once-in-a-century pandemic, the BJP government was successful in managing the state's economy and attracting the highest FDI into Karnataka. But, due to the Congress government's poor governance and mismanagement of the economy, Karnataka has slipped to 4th place in FDI in the last 10 months.

5.) PM Narendra Modi and the BJP have been focusing on the Southern states. Your assessment of the party's performance in this Lok Sabha.

Contrary to the narrative created by opposition parties that BJP is a north Indian Hindi-belt party, the BJP is already the single largest party in South India with 29 MPs. This time our party has set a target to win 50 seats from Southern states and I am confident that BJP's tally in South India will break all records and create history on June 4th.

6.) We heard reports of infighting and resentment in the BJP. Will it impact the party's prospects?

For the first time in the history of India, PM Modi government is facing a pro-incumbency wave across the country even after 10 years in power. The NDA led by PM Modi is poised to win 400+ seats and come back to power for the third consecutive term. In such a favourable situation, especially in a cadre-based party like the BJP, it is natural to have multiple aspirants in every constituency. And, ultimately when the party decides on one candidate, the remaining aspirants feel disappointed. But BJP is a party which believes in the principle of "Nation first, party next and individual last." So ultimately, all the resentment will settle down and our selfless Karyakartas will work unitedly to ensure that PM Modi comes back with a thumping majority of 400+ seats. 

7) Bengaluru has been hit by a water crisis. It doesn't send out a good signal to the world. Your views.

It is very disheartening to see that our great city, Namma Bengaluru, built by Nadaprabhu Sri Kempegowda has come to this situation. Unlike the other major cities which are built on river banks, Bengaluru has no river to meet its water needs. Kempegowda was a great leader with foresight and vision and hence he built 1,000 lakes across the city. His mantra was keregalam kattu, maragalam nedu (build lakes, plant trees). But Bengaluru is now left with very few lakes. Congress leaders must ask themselves who is responsible for this blatant and brazen lake encroachment. It is ironic that the same people responsible for making this city a broken Bengaluru is now speaking about buying the brand Bengaluru.

When the monsoon rains failed last June-July, the state government should have anticipated the situation and prepared well in advance to handle this imminent crisis. However, the Congress leaders who were busy in infighting have completely failed to anticipate and manage this water crisis. Sadly, the people of Bengaluru are forced to either succumb to the tanker mafia or leave the city. The Congress government is tarnishing the image of Bengaluru at the global level.

8.) Congress accuses the BJP of Hindi imposition and spreading aggressive Hindutva. Your views?

Each time the election comes, Congress, for lack of any achievements to show, creates this fake bogie of Hindi imposition. 

If there's one party that has been against such an imposition and always supported the vitality and diversity of the country's languages, it's the BJP. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee took a stand against one official language and spoke about the contributions of all of India's languages during the Constituent Assembly Debates. That's the position of the BJP even now.

It is rather the Congress which has been imposing Hindi on the South. In the last 60 years, Congress has had four opportunities to draft the National Education Policy. Every time, the NEP came with a 3-language formula under Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi where in the non-Hindi speaking states, Hindi was made compulsory. However, through NEP 2020, the Modi Government has changed this aspect and left it to the choice of the student to study in the mother tongue or any regional language.

9.) The sculptor of Ram Lalla is from the state. Will the issue of temple construction benefit the party?

Karnataka's connection with Rama goes back to Treta Yug. It is believed that Hanuman was born in Anjanadri Hills near Hampi. Kannadigas now feel even more blessed as both the stone and sculptor of Ramlalla's Murthi are from Karnataka. 

It is said "Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmaha", which means Rama is a personification of all good qualities. As rightly described by PM Modi Ji Rama is the national consciousness of India and we must resolve to make India a personification of all good things in the world. This is the essence of PM Narendra Modi's vision of Viksit Bharat.

People of Karnataka, like all other Indians, are happy that Bhagvan Ram is finally installed at the grand temple in his Janmabhoomi Ayodhya. This was our party's promise in the manifesto and PM Modi has fulfilled our promise. For BJP this is not an electoral issue. This is a firm commitment towards reclaiming our civilizational and cultural glory.


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