Interview: BJP’s ‘soldier’ in Dakshina Kannada, Capt Brijesh Chowta wants to deter Islamic fundamentalism

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Chowta has replaced BJP's former state president and incumbent MP Nalin Kumar Kateel from Dakshina Kannada.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 08, 2024 | 8:37 PMUpdatedApr 09, 2024 | 1:36 PM

BJP's Karnataka unit secretary and Dakshina Kannada nominee Capt Brijesh Chowta.

In an exclusive conversation with South First, BJP Karnataka secretary and Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha candidate, Captain Brijesh Chowta, discussed his candidacy and vision for the coastal region’s development.

Before entering politics, Chowta cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam for Combined Defence Services and served in the Indian Army’s Gorkha regiment for seven years.

He then completed his Master’s in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, followed by a short stint in the corporate world.

He joined the BJP in 2013. Since then, he has served in various positions, including as district general secretary. He was also made responsible for the Byndoor assembly seat in the 2023 Karnataka assembly polls.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Chowta has replaced BJP’s former state president and incumbent MP Nalin Kumar Kateel from Dakshina Kannada.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You served in the army for seven years followed by a stint in the corporate world. Why did you decide to join politics? Why the BJP?

A. I come from a family that is ideologically inclined to BJP and Sangh Parivar. My uncle was the first president of the BJP’s Puttur unit. Even before joining the army, I was an RSS Swayamsevak and was actively involved in it. My stint with RSS and NCC inspired me to join the army.

After coming to Mangaluru, it was natural for me to join the BJP. The mindset of a BJP karyakarta and soldiers is very similar. For soldiers, the nation always stands at the top. Similarly, for the party karyakarta, the country comes first.

I was inclined to participate in policy-making, administration, and societal activities. The BJP seemed like a natural choice, and this is how my activities with the BJP began.

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Q. Did you expect to be BJP’s candidate from Dakshina Kannada? What are your plans for the region?

A. Not really. We in the BJP are just party workers. Whatever the responsibility the party gives, we take it up and try to deliver it with utmost sincerity. As a party karyakarta, I am extremely privileged, and it’s a happy moment for me because I am a yuva karyakarta and soldier.

Identifying the youth leadership and nationalistic mindset is the core of the BJP.

I sincerely feel that the Prime Minister has recognised a soldier and Yuva Karyakarta as candidates for the prestigious Dakshina Kannada seat. That is the philosophy of the BJP.

We believe in democratic principles and values, where youth, women, OBCs, and the weaker sections should be given opportunities. Under this philosophy, I got an opportunity.

It gives voice to the youth, soldiers, and veterans’ families. I understand this responsibility and take it with a lot of confidence. I am privileged to represent my organisation and the progressive people of Dakshina Kannada.

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Q. What are your plans and visions for Dakshina Kannada?

A. I am very passionate about Dakshina Kannada and Coastal Karnataka. In Dakshina Kannada, there is everything except snow. You have hills, coastal lines, and culturally rich and rooted people.

People take pride in themselves, their languages, culture, and family orientation. This is the geographical area I get to represent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to build Viksit Bharat by 2047. I will work towards Viksit Dakshina Kannada and contribute to Viksit Bharat. Dakshina Kannada has all the potential and geographical area to capitalise.

Its people are affluent, educated, and talented. I will ensure that, as a representative, I am the voice of the youth, women, and entrepreneurial mindset of Dakshina Kannada.

I will ensure that people in Bengaluru understand the importance of Coastal Karnataka. The development of the coast will add to Karnataka’s progress. If the coastal area is developed, Karnataka will benefit from it, as trading will happen here. The development of Mangaluru port will be my priority.

We need to have good road and rail connectivity between Mangaluru and Bengaluru. Incumbent MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has brought many projects to Mangaluru.

The highways are developing at a very fast pace. My priority will be to ensure all the highway works happen in a time-bound manner as per the guidelines specified by the NHAI.

The four-lane highway between Mangaluru-Addahole and Hassan goes to Maranahalli. The challenge is the western ghats. It is ecologically and legally challenged. I will consult stakeholders, infrastructure builders and environmentalists.

I understand all these aspects of developing a good plan. My priority would be to ensure that men and material from Mangaluru move to Bengaluru quickly. I want to reiterate that the Mangaluru-Bengaluru Road is for more than just Mangalureans.

This line should be seen from a strategic, trading and economic prosperity point of view. The road between these two major cities must be considered an economic corridor. If this road is developed, it will result in the progress of Hassan, Tumakuru, Nelamangala and Bengaluru.

The Bengaluru people’s dependency on the Chennai port will be reduced. The cost of the moment for men and materials will be reduced. This is my priority and plan.

We have temple tourism, which we can maximise and utilise. Everybody agrees with the way temples are run in Dakshina Kannada. The potential of temple tourism has to be utilised. We also have five to six good beaches, especially Sasihithlu Beach, an excellent place to develop adventure sports.

I also want to explore whether Mangaluru can be developed as an MSME hub. There are many manufacturing units, such as a cashew processing unit. I don’t want to confine Dakshina Kannada to Mangaluru City.

We need to develop manufacturing set-ups in smaller talukas. We need to use your skilled and highly potential manpower. I want to build a vision document for Dakshina Kannada toward these things.

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Q. Do you agree communal politics have hampered the development of Dakshina Kannada?

A. These communal politics and certain used for Dakshina Kannada are the wrong way to understand the region. It suits certain people’s agenda. Dakshina Kannada has an Islamic fundamentalism ecosystem.

Even in Praveen Netaru’s murder case, the PFI was directly involved in this. NIA conducted the investigation. After that, Netaru’s murder led to the banning of the PFI.

PFI is developing an ecosystem in Dakshina Kannada, which is fuelling the minds of Islamic youth towards Islamic fundamentalism. This is a severe challenge in the region.

We have a costal time of around 68kms, which has exposed us to other countries. We have a border with Kerala, which is a serious concern. It is portrayed differently.

If somebody attacks cultural fabric, forceful conversion and cow theft – it is natural people will resist and oppose it. This is called communal politics. Everybody is responsible for this.

I see it as a law and order issue, a security challenge, and an Islamic fundamental issue that needs to be addressed from all perspectives.

Viksit Dakshina Kannada is a strong deterrent against Islamic fundamentalism and ensures equal rights and opportunities for all citizens. Dakshina Kannada’s cultural heritage, spirit, and land must be retained.

However, any anti-national activity that disturbs the peace will be dealt with firmly.

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Q. Why should people vote for Capt Brijesh Chowta over Congress’ Padmaraj?

A. People should vote for Capt Brijesh Chowta because he believes in PM Narendra Modi’s Vikshit Bharat. He represents the youth, the Tulu land’s spirit, and the culture of Dakshina Kannada.

We genuinely believe that the people of Dakshina Kannada have potential, and I am confident I can realise that potential.

Q. We have seen many BJP leaders in the past say they don’t want Muslim votes at all. Is your campaign an inclusive one?

A. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign is inclusive. He believes in Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas and Sab Ka Prayas. I want to avoid answering to agenda-driven people.

The BJP’s philosophy is to take everybody along while staying rooted in the culture of the land.