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Congress candidate from Bengaluru Central Rizwan Arshad speaks to TNM on his chances against BJP’s two-time MP PC Mohan, on Prakash Raj splitting his votes and more.

My fight is with BJP in Bengaluru Central not Prakash Raj Congress Rizwan Arshad
news Lok Sabha 2019 Wednesday, April 03, 2019 - 18:55

An MLC since 2016, 39-year-old Rizwan Arshad is hoping he will be second-time lucky in 2019. Despite losing to BJP’s sitting MP PC Mohan in Bengaluru Central in 2014 by a margin of 1,30,000 votes, Rizwan has been handed a Congress ticket once again. But the former Youth Congress President of Karnataka is confident that he’ll emerge victorious this time around against PC Mohan, who is looking for a third straight win.

While he has the support of the JD(S) with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda expected to campaign for him, Rizwan still faces a tri-cornered contest in Bengaluru Central, with poll debutante and popular multilingual actor Prakash Raj throwing his hat into the ring.  

TNM spoke to Rizwan Arshad on his poll battle ahead.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why should people vote for Rizwan Arshad?

From the day I lost last time, till today, I am in the constituency with the people on ground and going around doing my bit. I have made a lot of connections and reached out to people. And today the support I enjoy is because of the consistent efforts in the last five years. I have met a lot of citizen groups, I have taken up issues for them and tried to move things in the government although I was not an elected member.

My contribution has been continuous. Last one year, I have been able to sanction Rs 10 crore for Mahadevpura from the RDPR Ministry.  

I have also got new bus routes in different constituencies when nobody was listening. My contribution has been quite noticeable and I had the commitment to reach out to people.

Experts say you are at a disadvantage because of Prakash Raj, that he will split your votes, helping the BJP further

There is no question of Congress votes getting split. I am not saying he should not be in politics. Everyone has their space. But here as far as this election, my fight is with the BJP. I am not concentrating on him.

What will stop people from giving PC Mohan another chance when in 2014 he won with a bigger margin than in 2009?

The people of Bengaluru want a vocal voice in their MP and want him to take up issues for the city in Delhi and play the role of a catalyst. Bengaluru needs a dynamic MP. On the contrary, the elected MP was not as active as people wanted him to be.  

If you have to point to one thing that PC Mohan has done that you would have done differently, what would it be?

You have an unscientific body like the BBMP governing the city, and until you reform and decentralise the BBMP the city will remain like this. The BJP has unfortunately not allowed it to happen. We (Congress) have passed the BIll, the Governor had to give assent to it. But it was the BJP who forced the Governor to send it to the President and it is pending before him.  When he knows that a centralised BBMP will not be able to give justice to the eastern and southern part of the Bengaluru. Why does not he convince his own party on this?

We need an MP who has a certain vision for the Bengaluru city. That commitment and vision can move things around. Just doing routine work won't help and our MP has been doing the same routine work.

What is the out of the box solution you are offering?

I have asked the Mayor to have a separate reserve fund for the comprehensive development of the IT corridor since Bengaluru is known as the Silicon Valley of Asia. Next year, this fund will be as much as Rs 500 crores, where we will also infuse CSR funds. So there are a lot of things that can be done. So, I want to ask what is the out of the box solution that the MP has made?

What is your stand on the elevated corridor?

My personal stand is we need huge infrastructure because for the vehicular population of our size we need another five times kilometrage of roads. But at the same time, we need citizen participation and experts’ advice. If I happen to become an MP, I will make sure that the citizens and experts sit alongside the government and work together. And whatever the decision is taken it will be done with logic and scientific basis keeping in mind the best interests of the city.

What is the impact of the Congress-JD(S) alliance on BJP?

The JD(S) has enough strength in certain parts of the state. You have seen during the bye-elections when we came together, with what margins we won the four out of five seats. So, I am very confident that we will win at least 20 out of the 28 seats in the state.

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