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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

‘People elected me even after allegations of porn’: Laxman Savadi, Dy CM Karnataka

Laxman Savadi says “There is no law in our party that a politician should retire at the age of 75. Yediyurappa also has the virtue of developing second and third-line leadership.”

india Updated: Sep 20, 2019 23:10 IST
Venkatesha Babu and Vikram Gopal
Venkatesha Babu and Vikram Gopal
Bangalore
Laxman Savadi said that the opposition is bringing up the incident where he watched porn in the state Assembly only to discredit him because they are worried he might do good work
Laxman Savadi said that the opposition is bringing up the incident where he watched porn in the state Assembly only to discredit him because they are worried he might do good work(Laxman Savadi/Twitter)
         

The BJP in Karnataka pulled out a surprise when it named Laxman Sangappa Savadi as one of the three deputy chief ministers, even though he lost last year’s assembly elections. Since then he has been made one of the three party observers in the upcoming Maharashtra polls, giving additional impetus to speculation that he is being groomed as a leader to succeed Yediyurappa in the dominant Lingayat community, to which both belong.

In an interview with Venkatesha Babu and Vikram Gopal, Savadi said that the opposition is bringing up the incident where he watched porn in the state Assembly only to discredit him because they are worried he might do good work. Edited excerpts:

Q: What was the reason you were made the deputy chief minister despite having lost in the assembly polls?

A: In my opinion, the party high command might have felt that I lost because I couldn’t concentrate on my constituency as I was campaigning across the state. By making me deputy chief minister, I think they have hinted that the party organisation needs to be strengthened in northern Karnataka.

Q: Amit Shah met you last week, is that a sign that you are the BJP’s next big Lingayat leader?

A: No, Amit Shah met me to discuss the Maharashtra assembly elections, as I am one of the three people in charge of overseeing the elections there.

Q: Your meeting came at a time when chief minister BS Yediyurappa has been denied one...

A: I hadn’t asked Amit Shah for time, he called me. He told me at the time that he would call me for a discussion on Maharashtra. In fact, I told him that the chief minister wants to meet him and discuss about the impact of the floods in the state. He assured me that he would call the chief minister himself. There was no discussion on Karnataka when I met Shah.

Q: Do you see yourself as a successor to Yediyurappa?

A: I don’t think the party has thought of sidelining or taking over from Yediyurappa. The party has chosen a Vokkaliga, a Lingayat and a Scheduled Caste member as deputy chief ministers asking us to attract people outside our communities as well. Nobody is eternal, everybody must die some time, the same way power isn’t eternal either. There is no law in our party that a politician should retire at the age of 75. Yediyurappa also has the virtue of developing second and third-line leadership.

Q: The MLA from your Athani seat was disqualified. Will you contest from that seat now?

A: The matter depends on the Supreme Court’s decision on a petition by the disqualified MLAs. I haven’t thought of anything. If the party asks me to contest I will, else if it asks me to go to the Upper House I am ready for that too.

Q: Your selection caused controversy because you viewed porn in the Assembly...

A: I would just like to say that the incident was unfortunate; we did not view it on purpose. We believed it was linked to some other incident that had happened around that time. I agree that it shouldn’t have happened, and I resigned subsequently and apologized as well. I was given a ticket by the party in the subsequent election and the people elected me. I won by a big margin. So, I feel they have responded to these allegations. I think the opposition is bringing this up because they are worried that I will do good work.

Q. Why has the central government not released any funds for relief in the state, considering the extent of flood damage?

A: Floods have affected four states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala – so the central government is gathering information from all these states. Funds haven’t been released for other states as well, so we can’t say that there has been discrimination.

Q. You hold the transport portfolio and have promised to reduce fines under the new Motor Vehicle act. Why are you going against your own party’s central government’s move to enhance penalties for traffic violations?

A: Firstly, this is not merely a BJP government’s decision; the amendment proposal to the Motor Vehicles Act came under the UPA government. These revisions were based on the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee. We have received some complaints from common people that the penalties are too high. We will reduce penalties only for some of the provisions. We will not reduce penalty for drunk driving for instance.

Q: Do you see yourself as a future chief minister?

A: I have no such ambitions. It is up to the party to reward me with whatever position it wishes to give.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 21:49 IST

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