Keen to shed the “outsider” tag, Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman on Tuesday promised to learn Kannada and protect interest of Karnataka, as she filed her nomination for the June 11 biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from the state.
Speaking to reporters after filing her nomination on the last day to enter the fray, Seetharaman, the minister of state for commerce and industry, said she will ensure Karnataka’s interest in the Parliament.
“I have filed the nomination as BJP karyakarta, with Yeddyurappaji, other state leaders and Ananth Kumarji being there. I’m fully confident (of win),” She said.
“I will take care of interest of Karnataka in every way. I’m going to be a servant here being sent by honourable Prime Minister who calls himself Pradhan Sevak. I will be also a sevak, and because I will have to represent Karnataka, I will make sure that the interest of Karnataka will be ensured in the Parliament,” she added.
Seetharaman was accompanied by BJP state President B S Yeddyurappa, Union Minister Ananth Kumar and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Jagadish Shettar among others.
To a question, she said “I will learn Kannada, I know a little bit now, but I will learn to speak in Kannada.”
Amid mounting public pressure including protests by Kannada groups against renomination of Union Urban development Minister Venkaiah Naidu from Karnataka, BJP Central Election Committee decided to field Seetharaman in his place. Naidu will be contesting from Rajasthan.
A social media campaign was launched against Naidu’s re-nomination on the ground that he had not done enough for Karnataka from where he secured three Rajya Sabha terms, and that he did not even learn Kannada.
To a question on Naidu, Seetharaman said “Venkaiah Naiduji is a very senior leader of our party, a former President, we all respect him. He has done his best, we will continue the tradition... interest of Karnataka is safe in the hands of BJP and being led by Yeddyurappaji all of us will do our maximum best,” she added.