The Congress MP from Bangalore for eight terms Jaffer Sharief (81), is on the verge of joining the Janata Dal Secular party after being denied the Bangalore Central ticket. The man the Congress party has chosen to contest the minority-dominated seat is the 34-year-old Rizwan Arshad, a former national youth Congress president and a member of the Rahul Gandhi brigade. Amid the controversy, Arshad has plunged into his campaign to wrest the seat from the BJP and stave off newcomers like the Aam Aadmi Party that has fielded former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan. K Chandramohan caught up with Arshad on the campaign trail.
Jaffer Sharief is moving closer to JD(S). Does it not affect your electoral fortunes?
No way. CK Jaffer Sharief saheb is a very senior leader of our party. The moment my candidature was cleared for Bangalore Central I met him and sought his blessings. He is a very kind hearted person. His resistance is against seniors in the party and not against me.
AAP is fielding Infosy ex-CFO Balakrishnan against you. The party is fighting corruption and defeated Congress in Delhi. Do you see AAP as a threat?
First, I am a common man. I started my political career at the grass root level. I don’t have political lineage. We have been fighting against corruption in Karnataka for the last five years. The people of the state elected a clean government. Our present CM is one of the cleanest one that the state has produced. Over the last few months in power we have been delivering people’s expectations. See this is not Delhi. AAP has also disrespected the people’s mandate in Delhi.
Arvind Kejriwal is not a leader who can take on responsibility and deliver what people expect. He is has an agitation personality. Agitation cannot feed you. They cannot go face to face with the people again in Delhi that’s why he is roaming here and there. The AAP does not have a base here. The so-called AAP emergence and its threat to us is all a creation of the media.
There is a feeling of insecurity in some of senior Congress leaders in the state, including minority leaders, over the fact that your proximity to Rahul Gandhi may hurt their own future political prospects. Do you think this will work against you?
I am the party cadre’s choice. After clearance of my candidature all the youth and seniors and Muslim leaders conveyed their best wishes to me. Out of the eight assembly seats in my purview we already have four in our pocket. My intention is to do service to the people who are deprived. I am working for the party and people are expecting the younger generation to emerge and win. It is a rumour created by the media that my rise will affect the prospects of other leaders. I am people’s person. I have the leaders blessings too.
As a leader of the Karnataka Youth Congress what are you telling new age voters?
Youth should come forward to take lead in the change process. Approximately eight lakh voters are below the age group of 35 years in the constituency. I have been engaging in advocating youth issues for the last 10 years. There are two lakh new voters in the segment. I have very clear vision to provide better infrastructure facilities, roads, and sanitation facilities in the region. Youth also are expecting their aspirations should be reflected in the governance.
What effect do you see Narendra Modi having in these elections?
I don’t think much about Modi because he is just a CM of one state. The Gujarat growth model is just media hype. What is he talking about? Is he talking about women empowerment? His credibility and morality can be understood – he used his power to stalk one woman.
Is he talking about reducing the corruption? His stand against corruption is clear in his opposition over setting up of the Lokayukta in Gujarat. Only after court orders did his government set it up. The people of the nation are very clever and clear in their mind about choosing a young leader for a young nation.
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