Politics

Meet Chakravarthi Sulibele, The Man Who Helped Shape Modi Win In Karnataka

Chakravarthi Sulibele addressing a rally
Snapshot
  • Chakravarthi Sulibele is a known and influential voice in Karnataka, the only South Indian state to give the BJP an almost clean sweep this Lok Sabha election. People in the state credit him with being the lone non-political voice that took Modi to every household in Karnataka.

An orator, an activist and a writer — this is his brief profile. But the turnout and fervour at his rallies in Karnataka during this election season was second only to that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chakravarthi Sulibele is a known and an increasingly influential voice in the state that has been the only South Indian state to give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an almost clean sweep this Lok Sabha election. And his contribution to this victory for the saffron party is seen as a major one, for he toured the entire state with his brand ‘TeamModi’ with the aspirational byline ‘300 for 2019’. People in the state credit him with being the lone non-political voice that took Modi to every household in Karnataka.

Sulibele and his team spoke to over 5 lakh people through over 60 open rallies with the single goal of seeing Narendra Modi as Prime Minister yet again. They interacted with another 5 lakh people through their ‘Pradhana Sevak Ratha Yatra’ in which two ‘rathas’ travelled through 30 districts and 400 villages over a period of 70 days. They even set up a call centre to answer any questions that people may have had about the PM and his work. Their YouTube video views stands at around 30 lakh. Against the backdrop of their motto written in bold that read ‘Deshakkaagi Modi, Modigaaagi Naavu (Modi for the nation, we for Modi)‘, he began all his speeches, after paying respects to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sarada Devi, with

Ratnaakara dhautapadaam himaalaya kireetineem |
Brahma raajarshi ratnaadhyaam vande bharatamaataram ||

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(Salutations to Bharata Mata, who has the Himalayas as her crown, her feet washed by precious gems, and one who is adorned with the jewels of sages and wise ones.)

Unapologetic nationalism is what he is known for and that was the central theme of his campaign too. Unlike the usual election season discourses, Sulibele’s speeches raised the nationalistic fervour in the state throughout the season, and this was amply reflected by the behaviour of the voters in the state. Despite heavy anti-incumbency against many sitting MPs and the state BJP not really being in the best of shapes, the party swept the polls, getting 25 out of 28 seats.

Chakravati Sulibele delivering one of his speeches Chakravati Sulibele delivering one of his speeches

After 57 days of travelling 18,000 km and conducting around 116 public programmes in all 28 Lok Sabha constituencies, the day the state finished casting its vote, he disbanded TeamModi, confident that its ‘goal had been achieved’.

A task force that had come together in the last election season (2014) under the banner of ‘Namo Brigade’ came together this season to form the Yuva Brigade under Sulibele’s mentorship (it has also been disbanded now) . This volunteer-based organisation in the last four years has been working for the cause of water, environment, soldiers, and the like.

Sulibele sat down for an interview with Swarajya. Edited excerpts follow.

1. Some people are trying to drive a ‘South India-has-rejected-Modi’ narrative. Your comments.
The politics of South India is very different. Even for the BJP to introspect, this is the right time. What Modiji is calling ‘Vikas’ or development is new for North India. But for us in the South, it isn’t. When I went to Gujarat for the first time and saw the roads that had been newly made, those who came along with me were puzzled, "What is different, we have always had these kinds of roads, right?" So there is a difference between people from UP and Bihar visiting Gujarat and those from Karnataka and Kerala visiting Gujarat. So, in this way, this development or ‘vikas’ that we are talking doesn’t really amuse South India, it doesn’t see it as something really that big. Here we need something else.
The Hindu consolidation that worked in West Bengal, didn’t work in Kerala with the Sabarimala episode. So here, they need to think of something different.

Vikas is needed no doubt and even more strongly. The Gujarat model definitely needs to be replicated in states like UP and Bihar. Like in UP, the making of roads, and the strong measures to remove goondaism are winning accolades, but the tales of all that will get a very different set of reactions here in South India because the social reality is quite different here. None of those conditions exist here. We are much more at ease and the South has always been one step ahead of the North on these fronts and, hence, all that is applicable to the North does not necessarily apply to the South. So in order to get a firm base here, the BJP needs to think of something different.

And at present, the big problem that South India is facing is water. Modi may focus on it in the coming days. In the North, Modi focussed on the kitchen, the cooking gas, empowering women, but here, it will have to be water. The scarcity of water is such that I feel the one who will work for water will win the next election. The creation of Jal Shakti as a separate ministry seems like action in this direction and I feel that Modi will target this in the next five years. The woman in her house and the farmer in his field – these are whom they need to focus on for the next election.

The strategy for South India needs to change but it doesn’t mean that South India has rejected Modi. If you see the voting percentage, the reception that Modi got, if you see the results of Karnataka, and Telangana – where it was thought impossible, there too managing 4 seats – the first step has been taken.

2. Isn’t it too small a step? Are they failing in setting a narrative? Always being in a reactive mode, allowing the other parties to set the narrative and then in defence reacting to it, clearly hasn’t worked for them as one saw during the state elections in Karnataka. For instance, not many MPs have reacted to your Twitter #GramSvarga challenge asking them to adopt a village, have they?

If only the sitting MPs realised the need for setting a narrative. The sitting MPs – most of them – had a very high level of anti-incumbency against them and it was the Modi factor alone that could override all of it. Yet today, many of these MPs have it in them to take pride in the election results.

But see how they have been reacting to the Twitter #GramSvarga challenge, hardly 3-4 of them have accepted. One MP counter-argued and is listing reasons for not taking it up. They do not seem to understand that this ‘challenge’ is an opportunity to prove to the people that their vote shall not go in vain. One village is all we asked them to take up.

You can see how the Opposition sees it. The minute they saw 2-3 MPs take it up, the CM announced that he would restart his grama vastavya programme. Because he knows that if all the 25 elected MPs were to do this, his programme would be effectively countered. All you had to do is visit one village and start some work. But they do not seem to get it.

They are seeing me as the 'Opposition’. If the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders see me as Opposition, it makes sense, and I would be glad because I am pro-Modi hence, yes, in opposition to these people. But leaders in the BJP see me as competition, assuming I have political ambitions!

It is sheer bad luck the way things are shaping up. Speaking to a very senior leader, who congratulated me for throwing this challenge, I told him I was glad that he saw the intention behind it. Because, for a moment, I had a doubt if I was getting too arrogant. The reaction of certain MPs clearly showed that they thought I was challenging them. They didn’t clearly get the concept of these ‘challenges’. And those who defended my challenge have been blocked by that MP!

3. Talking of the BJP’s sweep in Karnataka. You had, in an interview, mentioned getting 16-20 seats. So did you see this kind of wave coming? For, if not for the Modi wave or the Modi factor, getting 25 seats was not possible, right?

Definitely. We expected getting 23 seats. Getting 25 is unprecedented. After we won 25 seats, I started feeling maybe if we had worked in the remaining constituencies we could have done better there too. Like Bengaluru Rural — we had given up, thinking we will lose by at least 4-5 lakh votes but now when we see that the victory margin was only 75,000 votes, we feel had we worked a little harder, maybe, that too could have been won.

But Hassan is a calculation gone wrong. A certain Congress leader at the panchayat level, gave me a call. The leader said, “We want to vote BJP but there is no one to sit here at the booth from that party. There is a need to create ground-level workers here in Hassan. We are from the Congress and so we can’t be seen doing this. The way he asked me seemed evident that the BJP only lacked booth-level workers to be be present. This is the state of the BJP here.

Wherever we have lost, it is because of this. When I went to Chennarayapatna, there was a crowd of 6,000. It is the Opposition’s adda. When we went towards Kadur or Arasikere, there was a crowd of around 4,000 even amidst heavy rains, so we thought there is a strong undercurrent in Hassan, but we failed in the end.

Of course, it is clearly evident that if not for Modi, it was impossible to even imagine 25 seats. Because, the local elections have shown that the BJP is nowhere. It was such a strong and clear message from the people of Karnataka, that too immediately after the Lok Sabha results. Given that the state gave BJP its 25, the local body elections too should have been a sweep. But that was not the case. The voter has clearly shown that they don’t deem you fit to be elected locally, and the Lok Sabha vote has just been for that one man. Kannadigas have given an extremely strong message that we will thrash you hands down if you do not perform.

So yes, the Modi factor worked. I always joke that saying, ‘Neenyaako Ninna hangyako, ninna naamada bala ondiddare saaku!” What Modi has done is enough to win elections.

4. In Kolar and Gulbarga, two stalwarts, who had ruled the region for a very long period of time, have lost. Your comments.

There was a very strong anti-incumbency against Kharge in Kalaburagi. We campaigned in all taluks of Kalaburagi. Except Selam, I have gone to all others and the rally at Karjagi saw a crowd of 10,000 people, the highest in any of our rallies.

When I asked people at Afzalpur if they would vote for the lotus this time, in one voice the entire crowd echoed saying, "e bari badalayistivi (we will change this time).“ At that time, we could sense that there was a strong chance in Kalaburagi. When I spoke to some of them, they said this same feeling was there even five years ago but the Opposition (BJP) candidate had got sold at the last moment or didn’t turn up to campaign at the last hour. When some such thing happened, we felt when the candidate himself isn’t interested, why bother? But this time, it isn’t so. We will fight and win.

Secondly, one could gauge the Congress’ defeat in Kalaburagi quite early. Kharge started saying ‘I don’t fear Modi, even if he stands in front of me…’, and for a person who had forever been saying, ‘I don’t go to temples, I don’t believe in Rama’ to suddenly do a U-turn and get his son, on Ram Navami, to wear a kesari (saffron) shawl and stand in front of Hanuman — all this sudden temple run and soft Hindutva was a sure sign of a predictable defeat coming their way. Even the people saw this and hence decided to finally show them the door.

In Kolar, the BJP candidate is extremely humble and people found him very different. The biggest gain there was the fact that their own leaders turned around and stood in opposition. The Modi wave, the new generation supporting Modi the way they did definitely added to the victory. But the huge margin with which they won is very special.

In the whole of Kolar, especially when I went to Srinivaspura, there were around 2,500 people, in Mulbagilu there were 4,000+ and in Malur there were 5,000 people, all of which was making it clear that the undercurrent was strong, the Modi wave was there but even more strong was the anti-incumbency and the opposition within the party. Kolar, I was super sure. Even when people said it’s a 50-50 chance, I had said Kolar was a sure victory.

The only doubts I had were for Raichur and Koppal, thanks to the infighting ,but the Modi wave swept everything away.

5. Election campaign speeches are usually high on name-calling and mud-slinging. But your rallies saw speeches only about nationalism. How did that appeal to the people?

If you comment on something controversial, you will be catapulted to fame, have a high profile. You will always be on the front pages of newspapers but never reach the people. Politicians make speeches to be on the front pages and the headlines of newspapers, not to connect to the people.

On day one, I had decided I would not end up just making headlines, nor make enemies, for that takes away a lot of your energy. They will protest and show you black flags everywhere and a lot of your time and mind space goes only in tackling that. Instead, we decided to spend two to two-and-a-half months just to get Modi’s achievements across to the people. What those who are elected are supposed to do but had not done in the last five years in this regard, we thought we would do. When the Pulwama attack happened and the reactions followed, the only ones who were talking about this to people was TeamModi!

Everyone else was busy making controversial statements, name-calling and the like. Only we were talking about Pulwama and the government’s response to it. People were actually waiting for videos to hear what we had to say about all this. So, we knew and had hopes that this group of people who are aware and watching all this will tell others.

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I have my doubts about rally attendance turning into votes hence I rubbish statements when people tend to accord the victory in 25 seats to my speeches. But the power of social media is phenomenal. The videos and interactions we had online were definitely influencing people in their living rooms, at the click of a finger.

I went to an old age home today and there was this old woman there who had watched all the videos. She sat next to me, and at 81, she knew the content of the videos and had also shared it with others! That speaks a lot about the impact of the work we undertook. It is also because the focus was only on the work done. Not once did we get ourselves entangled with anyone by raising a negative issue.

A JDS leader the other day commented saying, ‘We spend Rs 25 lakh to get an audience of 2000, while you don’t spend a penny yet you get a crowd of 3,000-5,000 people.” That’s where the difference is!

We consciously kept it low-profile, avoided media coverage. You invite coverage and media attention only when you say sensational or controversial things. We had it clear that we will not ‘protest’ or oppose anyone nor invite attention. We decided to only highlight Modi’s efforts. And these 25 seats that Karnataka has given needs to be truly applauded because this is not a part of the South Indian trend. Even though elsewhere it has not been possible, Kannadigas have stood by nationalism and the national leadership needs to recognise this.

6. As an orator, how has your journey been, in terms of audience turnout or the way you have been able to influence people? What has changed over the years?

In the beginning, my speeches were high on Hindutva. My speeches were even more hard-core right-wing. But I realised that those who make provocative speeches, indirectly steer people and pit them against each other, who then get into fights and even land up in prison. I did not want to be the cause of any such mishap.

Once in the early 2000s, a mother called me and said that her son had gone behind bars as he got into a scuffle on some matter. She said, “Now there is no one who will even ask about our well-being.” I felt the responsibility on people like us was even greater. It had nothing to do with me but the gravity of the responsibility of being an influencer struck me deep and I decided to make a shift. I took to educating people through my speeches and informing them rather than inciting them, even indirectly. Inspired by Buddha’s advice to Angulimala, I decided never to break that which I cannot mend.

7. You disbanded TeamModi on the last day of polling itself. Why?

Our task was done. I didn’t attend the swearing-in ceremony either. Because our job for this season was done. We disbanded TeamModi on 23 April after the second phase of polling in Karnataka was done. Because our focus was Karnataka and come what may, we didn’t let go of Karnataka. But then that was it.

TeamModi had no purpose to exist after that. Because, all these groups can be very dangerous. Those who worked may start even misusing information or contacts. Or, even if they just develop an ego that it is they who won the MP the election, it would defeat the very purpose of the effort. If we disbanded it, there would be no organisation at all, so there is nothing one can brag about.

Also, everyone is celebrating even till today. Maybe for the next three months also there will be people who will celebrate this victory. And this is one huge flaw in our system. The hangover of a victory lasts for too long, almost up to the eve of the next election season! For the next five years, people will keep watching the video ‘Main Narendra Damodardas Modi…’.

But this is the time to get to work, to hold the ones accountable and make them work. So I decided, I can’t let this happen.  Hence, I decided to skip the swearing-in and instead head to work. In order to ensure the cadre also organically moved away from this mode — like a mother offers a more engaging object to lure a child away from something she wants to distract it from — what we did was, we dissolved TeamModi and headed to Kukke Subramanya to clean the river. That video went viral and it changed the focus of the youngsters. That’s all that was needed.

On 23 May, we knew we would win, so we chose to head to Ganagapura. We conducted cleaning activities from 24-26 May and said this was the way we will celebrate the victory. All the energy and enthusiasm of the victory, I felt, should be directed here as a result of which we cleaned the Bhima river. We took out almost 40 tonnes of waste.

Cleaning up waste from river Bhima in Ganagapura after election victory. Cleaning up waste from river Bhima in Ganagapura after election victory.

8. What would you have to say about communal politics in the state? Having close ties with Bhatkal, there were those who didn’t want you to make speeches there but you did with not much ado. Hindutva is also a strong factor for the saffron wave, be it in some pockets during the state elections or this time around. Your comment.

I am not secular in the sense that people use the term. I am a Hindu. And only a Hindu can be really secular. I will never ever say I am not a Hindu to appease anyone. Even when I went to Bhatkal, the ones who opposed were not Muslims. My Hindu identity is being opposed because some see me as a very provocative exponent of Hindutva but, whether I am provocative or not, I am a staunch exponent of Hindutva.

When I clean a kalyani or a river near a temple, I do it not just from the environmental perspective but also from a pious religious perspective. Hindutva is in my blood, you can’t take it away. But this Hindutva is one that believes in ‘Live and let live’, not one that looks at killing people. I stay far away from those who believe in such extremist Hindutva. ‘Sarvarige sama bala sarvarige samapalu’ that is my Hindutva. My Hindutva is Narendra Modi’s ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’. And this Hindutva I will forever stand by and will urge everyone to follow too.

Not just in Bhatkal, anywhere in the country, local Hindus and Muslims are always fine with each other. It is only the ‘outsiders’ who come in and create issues. Even in Bhatkal, it is the ‘outside Muslim’ or ‘the outside Hindu’ who will come and create disturbances. One small incident is enough. As the dialogue from Bhajrangi Bhaijan shows, ‘Nafrat …..’

It is easy to incite negative feelings. To give you an instance, in my native place, Honnavara, there is a mosque right in front of my house. I woke up to the azan that was my alarm. We all attended each other’s functions, every Ganesh Chaturthi, the Muslims in the area came home for lunch and never did the thought of it being prasad or hence unacceptable ever arise. But after the murder of Paresh Mestha, things took an ugly turn.

Investigations are still on. Most politicians made charged speeches. But the town changed forever. There was no entry to those from other states in that mosque earlier. They would tell them ‘we are doing fine here, and all is peaceful’ and send them away. But after many leaders made spiteful speeches after Paresh Mesthas murder calling for a ‘cleansing’ and the like, there were forces from other states who came in and told them, look you have no alternative but to have us help you save yourself’ and they had to give in. And all that followed changed the fabric of that town forever. Honnavara hasn’t come to normalcy to this day.

It is impossible to undo this. Which is why I always ask people to behave sensibly. This is often taken as my attempt to be ‘secular’ in the not-so-affirmative sense of the term, but I don’t mind. This is not only my nation. Is it possible to kill 20 crore Hindus or will they kill 80 crore Hindus? No. The only thing we can do is stand under the tiranga together, salute it and live well.

And this is something we need to learn from Modi. I immensely appreciate the way he condemns somethings very very strictly. Be it during the lynching episode, or the Godse controversy involving Pragya Singh, he has been very clear about not tolerating any divisive action. ‘I will never forgive her,’ he had said.

That was a strong yet subtle message to those who are trying to be divisive. And that, in my view, is going to ensure that Muslims are a huge vote bank for Modi in the next five years. It has happened this time around too. There has been a shift. A few Muslim leaders who came to my office to break a fast one evening during Ramzan asked me if I had heard Modi’s Ramzan wishes. “That man is different Sir, he has said everything that we should be saying,” they exclaimed.

This is the shift I am talking about. He is setting the narrative, which unfortunately our leaders down here do not seem to understand or are not able to carry forward. They are all still stuck in two-decade-old politicking where the Congress sets the narrative, especially of appeasement and then they react. Modi is changing it but that’s not happening at the state level.

I feel bad because it seems like they have not been able to understand Narendra Modi. Many MPs of Karnataka sadly have not understood his ideas. He also uses Hindutva but there is a way he does it. The style with which he does it, is different. If only they could all take a leaf from his book, things would be different. But clearly, they do not seem to get it.

Forget Muslims, will these leaders be able to consolidate the Vokkaliga vote? While Lingayat votes are what you think you manage to get, you lose out on the Gowda votes. The Kurubas too you haven’t been able to get to vote for you. Not just have you not been able to get Muslim votes, you haven’t managed to consolidate Hindu votes either. Which means, you do not have the know-how. In the larger perspective, you are not looking at Hindus as Hindus, you are breaking them into factions. On the other end, you are also creating opposition from Muslims.

So, how will it work for the BJP here? It won’t. This, in turn, is what the Congress benefits from. The Kurubas vote for them, so do the others who are anti-JDS. In any region, if there are 1 lakh Kurubas, and 1 lakh Muslims, the Congress vote count begins from 2 lakh, while the BJP has to start at 0. But they do not want to understand this. The leadership in the state is a huge problem in Karnataka.

9. How is the BJP going to retain the seats that it has won? Or rather will it?

The BJP will survive because the other two in the Opposition fail to do so. But it can't survive on its own accord if it continues to function the way it currently does. The infighting within the Congress is high and Congress minus Sidharamaiah is zero as of today. But they will try and save him at any cost. The JD(S) is in tatters, as they are yet to figure out their own internal setup. The only person who has a ‘people connect’ is Kumaraswamy. If he jumps over to the BJP that will be the end of JD(S). I have a strong feeling it will happen. If that happens, then the Gowdas can't vote for the Congress. That will shift. And that is what will save the scene.

10. What is your definition of Nationalism and where does Narendra Modi fit into it?
To live for this land, this water, this community of people is Nationalism for me. Mainly living for the people of this land is Nationalism. And Narendra Modi has lived only for the people and that for me is the best definition of Nationalism. If you look at any of the thoughts, words and articulations of any nationalist thinkers, they have all been about bonding with the people, and that for me is nationalism. Narendra Modi lives and works for the last man, what we call the ‘antyodaya’, and that is nationalism for me.

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11. In what way do you associate Indian Nationalism with Hindutva?
My nationality is Hindu. If you ask me my nationality, I will say it is Hindu.  Because Hindu as a religion is how the Westerners view it. For me, it is my life. It is this Dharma that has taught me how to live. So, this Dharma which is connected to this nation is part of Nationalism. I do not see a difference between Hindutva and Nationalism. What I call Indianness or the ones I call Indians for me are all Hindus. I see no difference.

Discriminating between the two would be plain ignorance. However, ‘religion’ is very different from Dharma. Religion is a much narrower concept while Dharma has a larger meaning. The way I should be with my mother, my Hindu Dharma has taught me. From interactions to the way in which we conduct every single aspect of our life, the dharma of this land has taught me. This, which has given me my way of life and conduct, in accordance with the times we live in, that is Hindu for me. Hence, for me, even if someone is Muslim by religion, every Indian is Hindu because culturally, he is following the tenets of the Hindu way of life, what he has inherited by virtue of being born in this part of the world.

12. Suppose you have to advise the Congress on how to regain the nationalism space, what would be your counsel? The first thing they need to do is give up the obsession for family. As long as the Congress continues with its dynastic politics, they will never be one with the Indian consciousness. Because, here, even when we had monarchs, the King earned his respect only because he was seen as someone willing to sacrifice it all for the common good. No emperor went about accumulating it all for just his GenNext. If we take just the example of Karnataka, we are a land that saw the reign of great kings like Amogha Varsha Nrupatunga, who, when he came to know that his son had erred, ordered capital punishment for him. In such a scenario, If you think about it, dynastic politics is acceptable in times of slavery. But when the nationalist thought comes alive, it is impossible. If the Congress had continued on the path that Lal Bahadur Shastri, P V Narasimha Rao tried to pave for the party, this wouldn’t be the plight of the party. But it is very difficult for them to come out of the situation they are in today . Even when Rahul Gandhi wants to resign, they are not willing because they are not ready, they are in the clutches of the dynastic scheme of things. And this will make things difficult for their very survival. If they want to survive, they should open up the party.

13. You distance yourself from politics and it is a rule that Yuva Brigade events too don’t have any politicians on the dais. While those in the political arena fear you have electoral ambitions, you reiterate you will never get into politics. Your comments.

If you jump into politics, people will lose faith in you. The reason people have faith in me is this.  When I started campaigning for Modi in 2014, people started saying, “Oh, he will jump into politics, he will ask for a ticket this time itself, just watch.” I was also offered an opportunity by many senior leaders to think about contesting from Udupi, Mysore, Uttara Kannada. But I told them it is not to my liking and more importantly, I have made a promise to the people to work for Modi. People then started thinking, which “MLA seat I will contest,” but that stage too has passed by.

This time around, the BJP never asked me about political ambitions because they were very clear that I would not entertain such talks. So journalists started asking me whether I was looking at a Rajya Sabha nomination. This faith or the reason people turn up at my rallies is because they know that this man is not talking with a political intent in mind. This faith and trust that I have earned will be lost if I even think of taking one step in a political direction. And I do not want that to happen. But I would love to be part of policy-making.

When Narendra Modi said add the epithet ‘Chowkidar’ to my name, I didn’t heed to his request. Because there was no fun in being a ‘Chowkidar’ then during the elections. It is after the elections that one has to be a Chowkidar. Now I am a Chowkidar.

A journalist in Chikkodi asked me, “You are asking us to vote but will you take the responsibility of making them work?” It is not constitutionally possible. But then, you can challenge them, and that’s what we have been doing. We will take up one village, why don’t you too? We will share ‘usiru’ (breath), we will distribute plants to 1,000 houses in one district, why don’t you do it on a larger scale? You have the mechanism for it, do it for 10,000 people. So we will throw challenges, we will ask for an account of what you have done. Make your work public.

Because, in the next election, there is going to be anti-incumbency in the 25 seats in Karnataka. This time around, there were 18 and so in the other 11, we could talk of anti-incumbency against them and seek those seats. But in 2024, all 25 seats can turn completely around. If the Modi factor dips, then all 25 seats could fall flat. There are chances that the count will plummet to zero as well. To avoid this, it is important that the MPs gain the faith of the people from now itself and work towards strengthening society over the next five years.

Coming back to my stepping into politics, if a journalist who does well jumps into politics it is a “loss to journalism”. If I jump to politics, tomorrow any orator who makes speeches with conviction will still not be taken seriously. They will dismiss him saying “We have seen Chakravarthi, so please...” Hence, if I have to set an example I have to stay focused.

Swamiji (Vivekananda) says the only mantra is “Work, Work, Work” for the development of this nation. So work so much that you inspire whoever comes along, and if no one does, then “Ekla cholo”!

So, my focus has been to only keep working. Because everything that being in politics would get me, I have got — and the faith people have in me, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice for anything.

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