Centre can create projects, but state must implement: Shobha Karandlaje, BJP candidate, Bangalore North

Over a brief chat, Shobha Karandlaje talks of centre-state dynamics and what her focus areas in her constituency will be, if elected.

At Citizen Matters, our election coverage is focused almost entirely on data, long form journalism and in-depth conversations with candidates, not about party politics but their vision and policies for the constituency. Yet the challenge of getting 30 minutes with a Union Minister a few days before the campaign ended was always going to be difficult. We finally managed to get her to give us five minutes in a moving car and here is what she shared with us. 

Shobha Karandlaje, the JD(S)-BJP coalition candidate from Bangalore North is one of the better known women candidates in the fray for 2024. She returns to vie for Bangalore North after having served as the MLA of Yeshwanthpur, and subsequently, the MP from Udupi. Shobha has previously served as the Minister of Energy and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj at the State. 

Shobha Karandlaje has been controversial to say the least. Besides being removed as the candidate from Udupi following protests over her candidature, she was also censured by the High Court of Karnataka for her recent statements about people of Tamil origin in the Rameshwaram hotel bomb blast case.

As we followed her to some of her meetings in Dasarahalli, her elevator pitch for the voters focused on the achievements of Prime Minister Modi (where she currently serves as Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Food Processing Industries).

But what are her plans for Bangalore North, a constituency reeling under water scarcity, unchecked urban development making its challenges more difficult? 

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

You were the MLA of Yeshwanthpur before you were elected as the MP. What are your priorities when it comes to problem areas?  

Drinking water is a huge problem everywhere and this constituency is no different. We have to implement Cauvery 5th Stage on a war footing. 

There are many new revenue layouts. Let’s take Dasarahalli for example where we have a number of these layouts. It isn’t a planned part of the city, but the outskirts of Bengaluru which have grown to become a part of the sprawl. Water, roads and other basic necessities are problem areas here which need attention. Traffic is a huge problem. These are going to be my priorities. 

In some areas there are long-standing demands for overbridges and underpasses in certain junctions that have not been met. Prime Minister Modi has decided there will be no man-crossings (pedestrian crossings) in these places, so we will be looking at ensuring it.

Read more: Lok Sabha 2024: Bangalore North — Know your constituency and candidates

You spoke of implementation of Cauvery Stage 5. But the amount of water in Cauvery is finite. Your opponent, Professor Rajeev Gowda, has detailed a plan for better development of Bangalore north — 15 minute cities, blue green cities etc. What is your plan?

The Congress party has ruled our state for 65 years and currently is in power. As the central government, we can create projects and even get funding. But the implementation is the responsibility of the State Government. How interested is the state government in these matters? Our city was green but who encroached upon lakes? Their leaders continue to do just that. It is easy to lecture, but what is the status of issues on the ground?

Shobha Karandlaje at one of her campaigns
Shobha Karandlaje at a road show held in Chikkabanavara Municipality of Dasarahalli Assembly Constituency under Bangalore North Lok Sabha Constituency. Pic: X/@ShobhaBJP

Having said that, ground water recharging is extremely important. Not one drop of rain that falls in Bangalore remains in the city. It flows into Chennai and Tamil Nadu. 

Look at the Vrishabhavati river… who had to clean it? Why is it such a mess?

Read more: Need to make Bengaluru a 15-minute city: Rajeev Gowda, Lok Sabha Congress candidate

But your party also was in power…

Yes, we were also in power. But we never had a full majority government and coalition compulsions meant we were limited. But we tried our best. 

When I was the minister for energy in the state government, the UPA government created many hurdles for us, including laying power lines from North Karnataka to South Karnataka, because we were a BJP-led government. That is the reason the PM says that there needs to be a double engine government. It is easier to plan and implement projects better when the state and central governments are the same. 

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has a long list of complaints against the Central government but does not have the courtesy to have a conversation with Delhi. How do you deal with such disrespect?

So are you saying that the synergy of the federal system has broken down when it comes to relations between Karnataka and the Centre, and therefore the state is paying a price for it?

No. The federal system was strengthened by the Prime Minister, because as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he understood the struggle of having an unsupportive central government. That is why the first thing he did as PM was to increase the tax division from 32% to 42% to favour states. 

(The State Government has filed a plea on March 23rd against the Central Government in the Supreme Court, over non release of drought relief funds) 

You are one of the few female candidates in the running for MP elections. Are reservations the only way forward to ensure women’s participation in politics?

Yes. Because without reservations, even if we have strong women candidates, it becomes difficult for us to compete in the male-dominated field of politics. India is a patriarchal society and it is not easy for a woman to enter the field of politics. 

I myself have faced many things there are charges (accusations) and character assassination, there is money and muscle power at work. What reservation does is encourage more guaranteed opportunities for women. I have won without any reservation and have always maintained that going forward, I will contest from a seat without reservation to allow another lady that opportunity. 

But there are other women from weaker sections who need that helping hand and this situation cuts across all parties. I am originally from Sulia, which is now a reserved seat for SC candidates. But for that reservation, Vokkaligas would have never allowed anyone else to contest, much less win the election.

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