Incumbent MLA and INC candidate for Pulakeshinagar constituency, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, won by a margin of nearly 50% last time. Despite shifting loyalties and getting inducted into the party only in March, Murthy is confident of repeating the same performance. He was in the eye of the storm for cross-voting with seven other former JD(S) leaders in favor of INC leader KC Ramamurthy.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of campaigning, he sat down with Citizen Matters for a chat at his home.
DJ Halli area was in news for deaths of children due to malnutrition. What steps have been taken to address the problem?
That’s why forty anganwadis with nutrition facilities have been built to help them. Food, medicines, free education and all type of services have been provided for them to solve the malnutrition crisis. There is no problem now.
Mayor Sampath Raj represents DJ Halli ward. How did both of you work together for the ward? How has the last one year been?
It’s been good. We got some state government funds sanctioned. We speak to him and we solve problems as they come.
What are the problems slum dwellers, SC and STs are facing in your area? What steps have you taken to support them?
For slum-dwellers in all the seven wards, S K Garden ward, Muneshwara ward and others, I have taken the initiative of constructing molded houses to replace huts. This has already started and will be completed in one month.
Hoysalas are patrolling the area post 6 pm in your constituency, but women continue to complain of stalking. Are you aware of the problem? What steps did you take to address the problem, and what more needs to be done?
We have taken ladies into the police force recently to keep the constituency safe. In our country, we need to give opportunities to both men and women equally in the police department. Also, two or three Hoysala vehicles per station are available in the constituency to do the monitoring of the constituency.
The slaughterhouse located on Tannery Road was supposed to move to the outskirts. The citizens are waiting hoping for the relocation. What is causing the delay?
The needs of the people are important to me as well and I am with them. But it depends on what the government decides, it’s in their hands. We will support the government’s decision, whatever it is.
You have spent a huge portion of your LAD fund on constructing borewells in many areas. What has been the visible impact of this – is your constituency free of water issues?
I have helped solve the water problems. Generally, water comes on one day, and does not come on another day. For this reason, I have installed bore-wells and RO purifiers across my constituency. The residents are using it for drinking water, bathing and a variety of purposes.
You have spent good amount of money on roads. What impact has it had? You have done both-cementing and asphalting. Where do you stand on the white-topping debate?
In some places cementing is required and in some places asphalting is needed. But there is absolutely no white topping in this constituency, except for one stretch near Coles Park. Apart from road-repair, I will be looking into road-widening in all seven wards once I am re-elected.
Your LAD fund also shows expenditure on building RCC drains. Are these constructions scientifically designed to handle flooding? What was the impact?
The engineers come with their instruments and plans as instructed by BBMP. As you must have noticed, my constituency had some flooding before. But now over the last few years it has stopped due to the provision of RCC drains.
Despite the money spent on drains, on Mosque road there is a reeking drain opposite to KFC, which residents have requested corporator Zakir to fix repeatedly. He covered a portion of it with a mesh but he did nothing to prevent the stink. Any idea why this problem was not fixed?
In Bengaluru, we don’t close big drains as it can lead to flooding and water-overflowing. I did not know about this. If I come to power, I will talk to Zakir and deal with it.
You have been accused of talking in favor of a fraud company against which cops had registered a case. Do you want to tell us what exactly happened and why?
What fraud company? I have no idea what you are referring to. I have never spoken in favor of any such company.
Is there is enough monetary reward for the work an MLA does? Are the salary and allowances practically enough to run the show? How do you manage?
Whatever they are giving, it is sufficient. It is really up to the government to decide. We should just follow it. This should not be a cause for corruption.
You have recently joined the Congress party. Will this sudden shift from JD(S) confuse your followers?
There is no confusion at all. We came from Congress, we left for five years and we just went back. No problem at all, my followers are with me, there is no confusion. Nothing’s changed, Congress supporters will always remain Congress supporters.
What do you have to say about the controversy surrounding your brother’s arrest for an illegal demolition?
It was all politically motivated. My brother has not done any such thing. He is an extremely good human being with a clean conscience. He is only interested in social work and he even goes to the temple every morning.
Are you still close to Marimuthu, the Sagayapuram ward corporator from JD(S)? Is Elumalai, the independent corporator of S K Garden joining Congress now on your behest?
Yes, he will be joining Congress. How can she be close? She was just a party-worker. I am in Congress and she’s in JD(S). It’s not possible.
Why did you enter politics ? What was your vision for your area when you won for the first time? Do you think you have achieved it?
This being a backward constituency, I wanted to develop it. I have solved water problem, installed RO purifiers and bore-wells, built football stadiums and anganwadi buildings for them. I am happy with the work I have done so far. My father was a politician and worked in the corporation for many years. I am just continuing that.
What have you learnt in politics, all these years? What’s your highest ambition in politics – what would you like to become after 10 years?
My biggest lesson has been that joining the public and solving their problems, and supporting them is the way forward in development.
Why should people vote for you? What’s your pitch?
For the same reason – I want to work with the public, join hands with them and do good for them.
In case you lose, will you still work for people, or will you move away from public life?
I can’t lose, no? (smiles). How can you say that? Congress will come to power. Definitely. It’s god’s will.