In his first Lok Sabha battle, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has worked day and night to ensure that his party does not lose the Patna Sahib seat which is considered a BJP bastion. The seat has become a prestige issue since incumbent MP Shatrughan Sinha defected to the Congress barely a month before the polls. On the sidelines of a highly-visible campaign, Mr Prasad tells Sreeparna Chakrabarty that his candidature is supplemental and people will vote for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What do you think are the main issue this time in this constituency?
Patna Sahib is a BJP dominated seat. Five out of six MLAs from here are of the BJP. There is an overpowering urge of the voters of this constituency to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister again.
These are the two principle factors. My workers toil day and night. Regardless of their reservations, they made Shatrughan Sinha win last two time by working day and night. He is no more with us. Good luck to him.
As far as I am concerned, my candidature is only supplemental. Regardless of my stature in national politics, whenever I come to Patna, I remain a party worker and deal with party workers like that.
This is the first time you are fighting a Lok Sabha election. Most of the time you have been a backroom strategist for the party here.
It was the party which decided to take me through the Rajya Sabha. I have been a political workers since 1971 and have held several positions in the party. People along with the party cadre are thrilled by my candidature as they feel immense bonding with me since I started my political career in the city as a booth agent in 1971. Yes this is my first Lok Sabha election, but I used to strategise for the party and can say that I have made hundreds of MLAs so far. Besides as an RS MP, my productivity is as high as a Lok Sabha MP so I will utilise my vast experience for the Patna electorate.
I can in fact safely say that I am a Lok Sabha person.
Patna Sahib has seen one of the most decent campaigns free of slander.
I have decided not to take my opponent’s name. However, one thing I must say is that Patna has been predominantly a BJP bastion and the incumbent won due to the hard work of the party cadre, who felt let down when Mr Sinha said that victory was due to his stature.
How do you rate Mr Sinha’s performance in Parliament?
He has been “khamosh” in Lok Sabha for the last five years. I will make sure that the voice of Patna Sahib is heard in the Parliament.
Do you think Kayastha votes are a factor?
I don’t do caste-based politics. I appeal to people to vote for me and my party’s development agenda.