It’s 9.40 pm. I wait patiently outside Dr. Ashwath Narayan’s chamber in his house. I was supposed to catch him at 9 pm; but was told that ‘doctor is running 15 minutes late.’ Here I am, waiting for him to finish his interview with another media person.
The assistant sitting at the desk politely explains the situation: “We were on a padayatra; it got late when we returned; then the doctor attended this scheduled meeting, hence the delay.” Quite understandable, given the fact that the ‘doctor’ is trying hard to retain his constituency for the second term.
Finally at 9.45 pm, the door opens. The ‘doctor’ himself welcomes me into his chamber. Adorned with the saffron scarf around his neck and a broad smile over his face, he looks fresh, even after a hectic day mired with various political activities. No time for small talks, as it’s already late; the interview begins.
How was your experience in the last five years as an MLA?
It has been a mixed bag of sweet and sour. There were positive things, negative ones too. People have many expectations, we try to deliver them. It is not possible to do all the things which people expect. People too know our limitations.
How much funds have you got sanctioned for your constituency in the last five years?
Around 200 to 250 crores…
Including Local Area Development funds?
LAD funds is not much, it is just a crore per year. Apart from that there is more fund generated. This has been utilised to build schools, colleges, seva kendras, gymnasiums, playgrounds, parks, waste disposal systems and many other projects. Our constituency has been allotted the least funds among all, but the difference is, we have planned the proper, effective utilisation of the funds. Getting money is not important, utilising it to the best extent and getting the works done is more important.
What is your achievement as an MLA?
People are able to identify me through my work. 90 out of 100 people in Malleshwaram know Ashwath Narayan is the MLA of this constituency. This is the beauty.
What is the major change you have brought about in last five years?
Getting people to believe in the system. Citizens when faced with no response from the system, start losing trust in the system. In last five years, we have been trying to work hard to win their trust, by making the system work, to get them to believe in the system, and be a part of it. That’s the major, major change.
What is the major challenge, major problem faced during your tenure?
Again, winning the trust of the people. But we have overcome it successfully. With our work on improving overall lives, we have tried to improve the Human Development Index in our constituency. If the HDI is measured, it would be a telling example of our work. Better water supply, Sulabh toilets and solving garbage problem have improved the quality of life in the constituency. Thus we have won people’s confidence.
What is the status of garbage disposal in the constituency?
We have put in a system in place where in the waste produced in every ward is disposed within the ward. One or two systems have started functioning. Biogas production and composting through aerobic method have been implemented successfully. Other projects of this initiative are pending implementation due to the code of conduct. Many people have started waste segregation at source, but more people should adopt that system. If they do not cooperate, the system will not fall in place.
Do you think your party’s image might affect your performance in the upcoming poll?
See, I’m an individual. Individuals will be there, but party is more important. If the party does good things, take credit, if there are negative things, disown the party – it doesn’t work that way. I won because of the party, I’m here because of the party. Mass media gives publicity to negative things. It’s all part of the power game; one has to play it cool. We let people see our work.
Three reasons why people should vote for you again.
I’m accessible, I’m credible, I have delivered the goods. I have been the voice for the voiceless. People have seen my work, rest is in their hands. I will accept anything they decide.
Okay, that concludes the interview. “Did I address all your questions properly?” he asks politely. As the ‘doctor’ bids a typical ‘neta’ style farewell with folded hands and broad smile, I thank him and depart.⊕