Nalin Kumar Kateel, a grassroots worker of the BJP, made it to Parliament for the first time from Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency in 2009 by defeating senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary by a margin of 40,420 votes.
He is taking on Mr. Poojary for the second time. Judging by the votes polled in 2009 Mr. Kateel, 48, secured more votes in rural Assembly segments. He speaks to The Hindu on his second attempt.
What are the strategies to improve the lead in Mangalore City South and Mangalore Assembly segments where you polled fewer votes in 2009?
Reducing public meetings and having more door-to-door campaigns is the strategy. This is what we did in Sullia which gave the highest lead of 21,924 (plus) votes last time over the rival. The same would be adopted in three constituencies in the city including Mangalore City North where the winning margin was 2,383 (plus) votes. Of the three rounds of door-to-door campaigns planned, one round has been completed and the second round is under progress.
The BJP suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Congress in seven Assembly segments in the last year’s Assembly election. In Sullia, your party won by a margin of 1,373 votes. How will the party make up the loss now?
Voting pattern recorded in Dakshina Kannada since 1991 revealed that people distinguished between Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Issues also differed. For example, in 2008 Assembly elections Congress candidate won from Belthangady Assembly segment with a margin of 16,103 votes. In the Lok Sabha elections conducted just after a year (in 2009) I secured a lead of 11,225 votes against the Congress in the same Assembly constituency. In Assembly election in Moodbidri, if the Congress got a lead of 9,903 votes, in Lok Sabha polls the BJP was ahead with a lead of 4,298 votes in the same constituency. Similar was the trend in Bantwal, too.
Does caste factor play a role in this election?
Though I completely do not deny this, the majority in this constituency voted on the basis of party. In the last Lok Sabha election, a rival candidate made all efforts to get caste votes, but he failed in it.
How are your chances now?
We are not overconfident. But we will win. Particularly, the mood of the young voters is towards the BJP and Narendra Modi. There is Modi wave, people are looking for change in Delhi. In the last Lok Sabha election people did not know me. Now many are well informed.
Why could you not get any major work done in your tenure?
In the first three years, the area development fund allotted was Rs. 2 crore per year. In the last two years it was Rs. 5 crore each. Major projects require more funds.
Though you met with railway officials here at regular intervals why did the underpass/ overpass at level crossings at Kankanady-Bajal, Mahakalipadpu not materialise?
Both the Union and the State governments have contributed their share of Rs. 2.5 crore each for an underpass at Kankanady-Bajal. The project was awaiting technical clearance. For Mahakalipadpu project, the Mangalore City Corporation is yet to give its share.
If elected to power what are your two immediate priorities?
Setting up a separate railway division for Mangalore and setting up of agro-based industries.
Like earlier years, why the BJP is not giving more thrust on Hindutva agenda this time?
The concept of ‘Rama Rajya’ is nothing but development. So the thrust is on creating it through development.