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I represent a political party, not just one community: D.K. Shivakumar

The November 3 byelections are the first that D.K. Shivakumar will face after assuming charge as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president. The contests in Rajarajeshwarinagar and Sira Assembly constituencies have generated much political heat, throwing a challenge to the man, who is known for his organisational skills.

In the midst of some hectic campaigning in R.R. Nagar on Saturday, Mr. Shivakumar spoke to The Hindu. Excerpts:

Will the election result be a reflection on your leadership?

Whether I am party president or not, I always do my duty honestly and responsibly. For the past 30 years, I have done what I am doing now. Elections are not different, whether we are in power or not.

There is a perception that there is one-upmanship for the Vokkaliga leadership between you and JD(S) leaders.

No. I have never wanted to pose on a community platform. I am representing a political party, not one community. I have distanced myself from the caste angle of politics.

Are you seeing this election as a referendum on the BJP government in the State?

No. The government is misusing the machinery. There has been rampant distribution of money and misuse of power. The police force is being misused. Such things are going on…. I am sure a message from the voters will go to them. The government has failed in all respects, including in crisis management of COVID-19 and floods.

How is the Congress campaign progressing in R.R. Nagar?

People are responding well. They want a change in the constituency and do not want to help the backstabber [BJP candidate Munirathna.] Despite the percentage of votes that the BJP is talking about, I am confident of winning the seat. If people are feeling the heat in the constituency, it is because the government did not come to their help, either for employee or employer.

Sira seems to have emerged as a prestige battle…

No. For us, all political seats are prestigious. In politics, we have to accept that there is nothing that is not prestigious.

There is speculation over Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa staying in his post after the byelections. Do you think the poll results will have any bearing on that?

That is left to their party [BJP]. I do not want to comment on that.

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