Interview: Bangalore Central Congress candidate Mansoor Ali Khan vows fearless fight for city’s rights

Mansoor Ali Khan is the lone Muslim candidate from national parties in the fray from Karnataka in Lok Sabha polls 2024.

ByNolan Patrick Pinto

Published Apr 20, 2024 | 11:40 AMUpdatedApr 20, 2024 | 1:41 PM

Mansoor Ali Khan, Congress candidate from Bangalore Central.

In an exclusive conversation with South First, Mansoor Ali Khan, son of former Union Minister K. Rahman Khan and the only Muslim candidate not only from the Congress but from any major party in Karnataka in the Lok Sabha polls discussed his plans for Bangalore Central, polarization and dynasts in politics.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Since the delimitation, Bangalore Central has been a BJP stronghold. Are you confident of wresting this constituency?

A. I agree. They’ve been in power for three consecutive terms. However, the last election was a closely fought, except for a few instances that happened before the election. Maybe that’s why we could not make it. And the margin was small and narrow.

This time, I definitely feel there is a pro-Congress wave on the ground, as well as the performance of our state government and the five guarantees. I’m sure that this time, the people will support the Congress Party.

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Q. What is your poll pitch?

A. They have many issues with basic amenities. Though MP, MLA, and Corporator have different roles, the people are concerned about the amenities and the infrastructure. Different assembly segments have different issues. However, the common thing that comes up is the major water crisis.

There is a problem with temperatures. For example, today, we are standing at 37/38 degrees. Bengaluru never used to be like that. So, people are concerned about what Bengaluru has become. The green cover and infrastructure have gone. So, these are the issues, and basic education and health care are what they talk about.

Q. Initially, there was opposition to your candidacy from within the party. Has a consensus been reached?

A. Actually, everybody was united. I don’t know how this rumour was picked up; maybe it went on because of sensationalism, news, or tweets. But I’m 100% sure that all the MLAs are with me, all the contesting candidates are with me, and the Congress party is united. And I think the nervousness of the other camp has led to this rumour.

Also read: Mansoor role in Telangana win

Q. You played an important role in the Telangana election, which brought the Congress party to power. Is this ticket to contest because of the work you did there?

A. First, I’m thankful to the party high command for giving me this ticket. But yes, I have definitely worked in Telangana. I am the secretary in charge of Telangana, and I have worked hard for the party for the last 20 years. And when the party requires me to contest, I am here to contest, and it is an honour for me to contest from the party.

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Q. It is often seen that when a Muslim candidate is fighting an election, and it is a direct fight between BJP and Congress, polarization seems to take place. Do you see this as a challenge, and how do you overcome this?

A. I have always believed any contest should be between the candidates’ capabilities. I believe that I am the candidate for all. My whole agenda is to offer what I have to offer to the constituency and the people.

So, the Congress Party has never believed in polarization, and I am sure this time, after 15 years of a particular MP being here, people will vote for the best candidate for what they feel and what the candidates have to offer.

After 15 years, you should have a report card that tells the people what you have done for them. I have done this for your city, but you are not asking for votes in your name. So, that shows how much you have performed for the people.

If I had been an MP for 15 years, I would have listed all I had done for my constituency, Bengaluru and Karnataka. BJP and its MPs have failed in that and failed to protect Karnataka’s interests. Take My Tax, My Right. They never asked the Finance Minister or Prime Minister for Karnataka’s rights. They just can’t.

That is why I say the people of Bengaluru and Karnataka deserve a member of parliament who will fearlessly fight for their rights. If these two are strong, then India is strong. What is the use of 25 MPs? Just see the record of the MPs asking questions in parliament. None of them is popular. Only two are popular, but I don’t want to name them.

Also read: Tickets to kin, not dynastic politics

Q. Dynasts and nepotism exist in all parties. But more so in the Congress party?

A. I refute that allegation of being a dynast because I have been in the party for 20 years. In this period, I have come up the party rungs, and now I am contesting. Having been a state secretary, in charge of the research department, general secretary, and co-chairman of the communication department along with Priyank Kharge, I am now AICC secretary in Telangana.

And one more very important qualification: I am an educationist and a nation builder, and I have contributed in the sense that lakhs of students have studied and left my institutions. I have one quality that people will observe: If I start anything meaningful, I take it to the logical end.

Related: Congress says no Modi wave

Q. Will PM Modi coming over here have an impact?

A. I am fighting the election on our issues in Bangalore Central because my whole agenda is Bangalore Central, Bengaluru-centric, and about Bengaluru people.