Former Deputy Chief Minister and the BJP’s OBC face K. S. Eshwarappa has been hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who personally called him over the telephone on April 21 to thank him for announcing his retirement from electoral politics on the suggestion of the party high command.
“Mr. Modi described me as a disciplined soldier of the party, and a role model to others,” says Mr. Eshwarappa, who has decided to campaign actively for the party, unlike many other disappointed ticket aspirants who have rebelled.
“Party has given me everything. I started as an ordinary booth-level worker, and I was made Deputy Chief Minister. There is no question of thinking twice when party suggests that I should retire from electoral politics,” Mr. Eshwarappa told The Hindu in an interview.
Excerpts from the interview:
You are one of the prominent leaders of the BJP. But the party denied you a ticket, and asked you to retire from electoral politics. Your son too has been denied a ticket. What do you feel about it?
Whenever our party makes a decision, it considers all angles. It’s not about just myself. Whatever decision party makes will be a good decision. It is my duty as a worker to abide by it.
Did you expect that you may have to retire from electoral politics?
I had some kind of an indication in this regard, owing to speculation for some time that seniors may be asked to retire. But, I was not sure when exactly.
At the same time, B. Y. Vijayendra, son of party veteran B. S. Yediyurappa, has been given the ticket to contest this time. What is your view in this regard?
I don’t know. There could have been some political compulsions in that seat from where he is contesting.
What was your reaction when the party asked you to retire from electoral politics?
I immediately told them that I would oblige, and sent a letter announcing my retirement.
What was the reaction of the party high command when a leader like you agreed in no time to retire from electoral politics?
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally called me over the phone. He thanked me for obliging. He described me as a disciplined soldier of the party and a role model to others. The party central leadership is happy that I not only agreed to retire from electoral politics but also convinced the emotional supporters who had gathered in front of my house about our duty to abide by the party’s instructions. I think they are also happy that I went on to write an open letter to senior leader Jagadish Shettar to reconsider his decision to join the Congress.
But several other disappointed ticket aspirants have raised a banner of revolt while Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi have even joined the Congress. What is your take on this?
Laxman Savadi is not originally from the BJP cadre, as he came from the Janata Parivar. But I am very surprised by the reaction of Mr. Shettar, as he comes from a family that has deep roots in the Jan Sangh. The party has given him everything, right from the post of president of the State unit to minister and Chief Minister.
Will you campaign for the party in the Karnataka Assembly elections?
Yes. I not only accompanied the party’s Shivamogga candidate while filing nominations but also accompanied the party’s nominee when he filed his nomination papers in Hubballi where Jagadish Shettar will be contesting on a Congress ticket. In fact, the party’s leaders in Hubballi were keen that I be there.
Are you planning to meet BJP’s central leaders in Delhi?
No. There is no need to go to Delhi, as I did not announce retirement from poll politics out of any expectation. But if they want to meet me, I will go.