Interview: ‘Give us I-T and ED, even Amit Shah will join Congress, says Chikkaballapur candidate Raksha Ramaiah

He also explained how the party was now focusing on the youth and how its guarantees would work to help it win the Lok Sabha elections.

ByNolan Patrick Pinto

Published Apr 24, 2024 | 9:14 AMUpdatedApr 24, 2024 | 9:14 AM

File photo of Raksha Ramaiah

In an exclusive interview with South First, Congress’ Chikkaballapura Lok Sabha candidate MS Raksha Ramaiah discussed how the party was now focusing on the youth and why its guarantees would work to help it win the Lok Sabha elections.

He also spoke of how the Union government was using the Income Tax (I-T) Department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to destabilise the Congress.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. The Congress has picked youth over experience for this seat.

A. Yes, it was a very carefully thought-out decision. In our plenary, Congress decided to have a representation of about 40 percent of the youth across the country and Karnataka. We were the first state to follow it. We have got 10 out of 28 seats. That is one of the largest shares ever.

Congress identifies the leadership that the youth can bring to the table and our potential to represent the population that we really have. That is a really large one. It is about 45-55 percent of what the youth comprises.

That is what the party has stood for. And Congress believes in the actual representation of all classes, including the youth.

Q. So, what is your poll pitch over here? What are the issues you are focusing on?

A. Multifold, actually. On one side, we do our nationwide promises campaign — a guarantee campaign. On the other side, we do a very localised guarantee campaign.

We haven’t really gone attacking our opponent because that’s not the angle we want to take, even though there are heaps and heaps of garbage on that particular candidate. We don’t want to go on that narrative.

We want to fight on our nation-building and state-building narrative. We want to build on our promises, on the delivery of our promises to the people in Karnataka, and similarly to the people in the country.

They are some of the largest direct beneficiary transfer schemes that happened in Karnataka and across the world. It has never happened and we have been a benchmark in Karnataka. We are sure that under the leadership of Delhi, of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, we will make sure all these promises reach the people.

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Q. The Modi factor or Congress guarantee: Which will triumph here?

A. The Modi factor has worked for the past 10 years. People are fed up. They’ve got nothing to fill their stomachs with. Out of the 150 promises, he has fulfilled only three or four.

People understand Covid-19 mismanagement, GST mismanagement, demonetisation, and farm laws. They have only troubled people and have not really done anything good for them.

So, in our promises, we have got a loan waiver for all the farmers in the country. We will waive all the GST in the country. Every woman or household head will get ₹1 lakh in the country. Every unemployed youth in the country will get ₹1 lakh.

This is really a small service from Congress to the people of our country. We want to uplift. Once people get money, that’s when it goes back into the market.

Now the money is consolidated with less than 5 percent of the population, and that will never do well. You are again looking at an oligarchic system and that is not going to do well for the country.

Q. Prime Minister Modi was in Chikkaballapur on 20 April. While addressing a campaign, he said, “I just do not make policies, I give guarantees as well.”

A. I don’t know what he is really talking about. All the policies that Congress has really started are what he’s using now — from our MGNREGA to RTI.

All these policies are what Congress really stands for. They [BJP] don’t understand promises. They don’t understand policies; they understand divide and rule. So, I don’t know what he really talks about.

And his gathering in Chikkaballapura was not what he expected. It was one-third of what he expected and it was disappointing for them. But we were pretty content with that.

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Q. BJP and JD(S) are allies. How will this impact voting?

A. In 2019 it was a Congress and JD(S) alliance. We got one seat. It’s a BJP and JD(S) alliance this time. I don’t think they’re going to do better than that.

Q. We see a lot of leaders from Congress — both youngsters and those with experience — leaving the party across the nation.

A. You give us the I-T Department and the ED, and we will make everybody come to our party. You give us the police force; we will make everybody come to our party. We’ll get even Amit Shah to come to our party.

Q. Is there a fight for space amongst youngsters in the party in Karnataka Congress?

A. No. Our seniors have made a lot of room for us this time. A lot of youngsters have got tickets this time. And there’s a lot of contentment everywhere.

No senior leader has revolted. Everybody is very graceful about it because they understand there are different times for different people.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)