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'Nepotism won’t apply to Gandhis, they fought for independence', says youngest Congress candidate

By Chennabasaveshwar

At 27, he is the youngest candidate from the Congress party to contest the May 12, Karnataka elections. This is H S Manjunath Gowda who will be battling Gopalaiah of the JD(S) from the Mahalaxmi Layout constituency in Bengaluru. Gowda, who is currently the state president of National Students Union of India (NSUI), did his law from the Sheshadripuram evening law college.

Manjunath Gowda

When asked about the nepotism in the Congress party, he says it exists, but also adds that a common worker like him too gets a chance in the party. He, however, makes an exception when it comes to the Gandhi family and says it is because they fought for India's independence. In this interview with OneIndia, Gowda who is also a D K Shivakumar protege says that the Congress is a party which gives priority to the youth.

Who encouraged you to choose politics as your area of activity?

I was born in a farmers' family in Nagamangal taluk of Mandya district. My father Sannarame Gowda and, mother Laxmamma are farmers, who have no clue about politics. Unlike educated parents, my parents have no clue what NSUI means, what I'm going to do. For my education, I moved Bangalore. During my student days in Sheshadripuram College, I joined the youth Congress and later joined the ranks of NSUI. In fact, I didn't know about NSUI until I travelled outside Karnataka for membership drive in other states. Minister DK Shivakumar is my political guru. He was MLA at the age of 26. With his blessings, I am contesting elections at the age of 27.

How did you get a ticket at this young age?

The party has recognized me for my work. I am always committed to the party, I am 24/7 worker. I bunked exams for the party work. Currently, NSUI is active in 26 districts, and high command recognizes this effort. The opportunity given to me suggests that Congress President Rahul Gandhi promotes youth in the party.

What do you say about money power in ticket distribution?

Many disgruntled party workers who didn't get ticket complain that money plays a vital role in ticket distribution. I don't agree. If that was so, I would not have got the ticket. I am the son of farmer where do I manage crores of money? Rahul Gandhi, KC Venugopal, G Parameshwara, and CM Siddaramaiah know my profile. The party has details of all the candidates. They assured ticket to me.

Do you think nepotism thriving in the Congress? Is it easy to get for a politicians children?

I don't deny nepotism in the Congress. But this is also a fact that a common worker like me gets an opportunity. DK Shivakumarji supported me throughout my NSUI days and other youngsters like me are active in the party.

Does that rule not apply to Gandhi family?

Gandhi family is an exception. That family fought for the Independence of the country. We, party workers, want them to lead the party. We have chosen them, they didn't choose themselves to lead. In fact, Rahul Gandhi will support youths. I do believe youths come with the ability to innovate. Youths can bring the change. Also, I request the party give more preference to youths.

Originally you are from Nagamangal, but Why do you to contest in Bangalore?

I don't know politics of my native place Nagamangal. Since my student days, I have been active in Bangalore city through youth clubs and NGO in Rajaji Nagar and Mahalaxmi Layout. So, wanted to contest from Bangalore. I wanted to contest from Rajajinagar, but I got Mahalaxmi Layout. Mayor Padmavati is contesting from Rajajinagar. My leaders are confident that I could do well in Mahalaxmi layout. Above all, I would say it's divine call. I don't feel like an outsider.

Manjunath Gowda with DK Shiva Kumar

What is your vision as the youngest candidate?

Most importantly, I want to bring in changes in primary and higher education. I observed our education more inclined to theory, less on practical education. I have already given a memorandum to CM Siddaramaih to introduce changes in education. Besides, I don't like the commercialisation of education. Education has become commercial activity. I want to fight for quality education for the downtrodden section. Everybody should get a quality education.

What did you learn from your political guru DK Shivakumar?

Firstly, A real leader is one who creates leaders, not followers. DK Shivakumar is known for this. Like my mentor, I do want to create leaders. I want to introduce young leaders from NSUI to local body elections. Some of them have already in active politics.

Secondly, loyalty to the party is the greatest quality of DKS. He has proved it a number of times.

Third and most important quality is his courage. I was hesitating to take on sitting MLA Gopalaiah. But DK Shivakumar has assured me support throughout the election. While encouraging me he gave his own example. He said, " Why are you afraid?I took on took on former PM Deve Gowda single-handedly in a parliamentary election?"

DK Shivakumar led the party to victory in by-elections. he told me not to worry and just keep working. I know him for the last 10 years. He prefers youngsters who are loyal to the party and taskmasters.

About political skills, I want to show it off in the field. It is hard to explain skills I have learnt from DK Shivakumar.

What is your message for youths?

I want to convey that Congress party encourage youngsters. Only politicians cant bring in changes in the system. Youths should come with their ideas. If I win the elections, the first priority would be to improve basic amenities in my constituency. I have visited labour families in around Mahalaxmi layout. Also, environment protection is a top priority. I know urbanization is inevitable, but that should be not at the cost of environment.

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

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