Basavanand Swamiji, a visually challenged Lingayat seer from Karnataka, is in the race to contest the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections on a BJP ticket from the Kalghatgi constituency. The contest could be a hotly contested one since the sitting MLA from this constituency is mining baron, Santhosh Lad who was also a minister in the Siddaramaiah led Congress government.
Basavanand, who believes in the Basava philosophy, runs an ashram in Managundi village of Kalghatgi taluk in Dharwad district. In the wake of reports, suggesting Swamiji's taking plunge in the elections, OneIndia spoke to Basavanand Swamiji regarding his interest in politics and his political inclinations.
Q. OneIndia: How did you develop an interest in politics being a spiritual person?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: I was interested in national politics since I was in 9th standard. I remember when VP Singh came out of Rajiv Gandhi's government in late 90's. I always wanted stable government at the Centre. I was pained by subsequent coalition governments at the Centre. Back in 2013, I wanted to contest the Lok Sabha elections against former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, but I narrowly missed getting a ticket. At that time I was not interested in state politics. I am inspired by the development in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the CM of Gujarat. Since 2008 I'm following Modi's work. I really felt bad when UPA came to power in 2008. I really wanted Modi to become Prime Minister in 2008 itself. I have met Narendra Modi in Gujarat twice before he became PM. I spent 45 minutes speaking with him then. ( The details of the conversation were however not elaborated by Basavanand)
Santosh Lad has been MLA for the last 10 years. He left the constituency after being elected from Kalghatgi. I am a visually challenged person. I have my own limitations. Hence, I want to focus on local politics. Firstly, I want to be elected as an MLA. Though I 'm blind, I am determined to serve the people.
Q. OneIndia: Don't you have competitors from your own constituency?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: In fact, I was quiet for the last three years. Now, I have been active in local politics for the last 6 months. Yes, there are people aspiring to contest on a BJP ticket. CM Nimbannavar, Mahesh Tenginkai, and one more contender are in the fray. I hope, the party high command will consider my candidature. Even if I don't get the ticket I would support the candidate chosen by the party.
Q. OneIndia: Is it good for Swamiji's to take part in power politics?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: Aristotle says, "Philosophers must rule the world." However, I despise rigidity, fanaticism politics. I am a nationalist with love for religion and country. My idealism matches with the BJP. At present we are facing four major challenges in politics. Namely, corruption, casteism and dynastic politics. Indeed, spiritual leaders should enter politics to counter these challenges.
Q. OneIndia: Can your protect sanctity in the elections driven by muscle and money power?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: According to a survey in my constituency, there are only 25 percent people who are drunkards. My hopes are on rest of 75 percent people who do not consume alcohol. I am determined to 'Sankalp' to contest the election without compromising my morality and spirituality. If I get the ticket I don't want to distribute liquor and money to get votes.
Q. OneIndia: Are you inspired by Yogi Adityanath to join politics?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: I am happy that Yogi Adityanath is in politics. But I came to know about him only in 2014. I would say he is not a role model for me, but his role in Indian politics encourages me. It's an example that spirituality and politics can go hand in hand. Yogi tradition has the history of the successful blend of spirituality and politics in Uttar Pradesh. Religious and politics inspired by freedom fighters. don't let their sacrifice in vain.
Q. OneIndia: What are your priorities for your constituencies?
A. Basavanand Swamiji: I was born in Haasan district, studied in Mysore. I am settled for the last 15 years in Kalghatgi taluk. I see farmers suffering due to lack of irrigation facilities and second major concern in educational backwardness. There are 142 villages and 8 Zilla panchayat seats in the constituency. I have covered all the villages and reached out the people with my priorities. I had to forgo my scheduled programmes and sermons for the election work.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|