Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (SB)
Mangaluru, May 8: Ashwin Pereira, former president of Moodbidri JD(S) unit, turned rebel when he was denied ticket by the party to contest the forthcoming Karnataka Assembly Election. He is now contesting the elections as an independent.
Being a businessman and having a strong hold in the Christian community, Ashwin is known for his dynamic leadership and social work among the people of Moodbidri.
Ashwin in an exclusive interview for Daijiworld 24x7, spoke to editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike and revealed controversies that forced him to turn rebel as well as his aspirations to develop the constituency.
Q: JD(S) offered you the candidature for the Legislative Council election and after the declaration of election dates also, your party stuck to same. Then why did you suddenly change your mind and express desire to contest for Legislative Assembly? Why did you decide to fight as an independent candidate?
A: Under various circumstances, change in politics is common. It is true that JD(S) party offered me MLC ticket and I assured them on not contesting in MLA election. But when Abhayachandra Jain expressed his desire to contest again in Moodbidri, my party members suggested it was the right time for me to contest as a MLA. A large number of voters are disappointed with Abhayachandra’s tenure and are waiting to teach him a lesson. This was sure to benefit us. So as per party members demand, I asked JD(S) for a ticket.
Q: JD(S) senior leader Amarnath Shetty once said in public that Ashwin would be the party's next candidate from Moodbidri. Does it mean there are no issues between you and Amarnath Shetty? Why was your name was dropped when Amarnath Shetty withdrew his candidature?
A: That is what I don't understand. So I am contesting against the JD(S) candidate as a rebel. It is right time to show my strength and popularity in my constituency. Once the election is over, I will meet Deve Gowda and senior leaders of the party and will inform the internal happenings in JD(S) in Moodbidri
Q: A large number of minority voters are living in your constituency. Now there is an allegation that you are trying to divide Christian vote bank which has always stood with the Congress and indirectly helping BJP.
A: Has Congress adopted Christians and Muslims? Earlier Abhayachandra himself has given statement that he doesn’t want Christian and Muslim votes. Then now how can Congress say Ashwin is dividing Christian votes? I want to say that now in Moodbidri, the contest is between BJP and Ashwin. Congress is not in picture. Abhayachandra has already accepted his defeat. When I filed my nomination, his party leaders called me many times and requested me to withdraw the candidature.
Q: After filing the nomination, it seems the BJP camp is happy with you. They were asking you not to withdraw your candidature. Any clarifications from your side?
A: It is clear that I am contesting against both BJP and Congress. They do not have any moral right to seek vote in the name of development in Moodbidri. That is why they are talking too much on the lines of community and religion. I am not contesting election with the calculation of community votes. Development for all is my ultimate motive. Congress and BJP also should seek votes in this formula.
Q: There is major allegation on you that "defeat of Abhayachandra" is only your main agenda?
A: That is a lie. Abhayachandra will not win this election anyway. He is not able to give tough competition either.
Q: That means Abhayachandra is not winning?
A: Of course, I will win this election. People of this constituency especially minorities are fed up with Abhayachandra. Yet, they didn't see any development in his long term. So they all are with me and working for my victory. Thousands of Hindu friends are campaigning for me in various parts of the constituency. Same time, JD(S) is weakening day by day. They are finding hard to find booth agents in majority of wards.
Q: You filed your nomination on the last day. How are you managing preparations and campaigns in such short time?
A: Our members already completed the house visits in all 210 wards. When Amarnath Shetty had given the hint of my candidature, two years back, that time itself, I started my preparations at booth level. I deployed my teams for my campaign. So now I am not facing any difficulties in campaigning or any other preparations. Today, members are hoping my victory. So they are working for me.
Q: Under the party banner the campaign is very easy and majority people also vote party candidates either Congress or BJP. As an independent candidate how can you reach the people?
A: I am still in JD(S). I am the real JDS candidate.
Q: But JD(S) expelled you from party and also you do not have the party symbol?
A: Who said I am expelled from party? I am president of the party in the constituency and have valid party membership. District leadership does not have any rights to expel me from party. I come straight under state leadership and yet I never received any notice or letter from the leadership of my party. So I am not bothering about district leader’s comments or action.
Q: A big campaign going on against you stating that Ashwin is 'Bali Ka Bakra'. Some Christian leaders and Catholic Sabha used Ashwin for their selfishness. So how you defend these allegations?
A: I am not bothering about the comments circulating on social media against me. Same time, I am not trapped by anyone. What is wrong if Catholic Sabha supports me? It is common that nowadays every community backs the candidate from their community.
Q: What is your plan for your constituency if you win?
A: From past twenty five years, Moodbidri has not seen any major developments. MLA failed to bring major technical institutions or colleges for our constituency. Many families have given land to SEZ but they not yet received proper compensation. Many families don’t have their own home. There is no electricity and water facility in many areas. Shelter, water, electricity are the basic issues of Moodbidri people. So my first priority will be on these issues. Apart from this will bring many schemes of state and union governments which has not yet been brought to Moodbidri.
Q: What is your strategy against BJP?
A: In my constituency, BJPs role is zero. So I do not have any issues to speak about them. I can only speak about Nalin Kumar Kateel. Being a MP of our district, he has done nothing for our people. I never have seen him in my constituency. I heard he is participating in only few private programmes.
Q: In last election Umanath Kotian lost the contest by small margin and Abhayachandra won the election. This time all predictions say that it will be Umanath Kotian. What is your opinion?
A: No this time people are not with Umanath Kotian. His party workers themselves are trying to defeat him. Personally, he is not active in the constituency and he has many enemies in his party itself.
Q: You are young and popular leader in Moodbidri. How is the response on your candidature in constituency?
A: People are responding very positively. They are waiting to bring change in the constituency. In their words and support, I felt that they want a young representative for Moodbidri. Few are trying to confuse the voters via social media. Basically, they are from Congress and BJP. They do not have weapons to target Ashwin. So ultimately they are dragging community to this election. I have thousands of supporters from all communities. So I will readily face any challenge from Congress or BJP. My ultimate motive is to respond to the people of my constituency and help them with maximum efforts.
Watch full interview