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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

In D.K. Suresh den, Doctor C.N. Manjunath on the prowl despite Deve Gowda's advice

When Karnataka’s political landscape was abuzz with talk of Dr C.N. Manjunath taking the political plunge, Gowda, the Janata Dal Secular supremo, had tried to dissuade his son-in-law, who had until then focused on his career as a cardiologist

K.M. Rakesh Ramanagara (Karnataka) Published 23.04.24, 09:01 AM
Congress candidate and incumbent MP, DK Suresh campaigns in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and (picture right)BJP-JDS candidate Dr CN Manjunath (centre) at a roadshow in Poornaprajna Nagar, in the BengaluruRural Lok Sabha constituency on Saturday.

Congress candidate and incumbent MP, DK Suresh campaigns in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and (picture right)BJP-JDS candidate Dr CN Manjunath (centre) at a roadshow in Poornaprajna Nagar, in the BengaluruRural Lok Sabha constituency on Saturday. Pictures by KM Rakesh

A reputed cardiologist who happens to be the son-in-law of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was the least likely candidate to take on a three-time member of Parliament, that too one of the trouble-shooter siblings of the Congress who had won by over two lakh votes in 2019.

When Karnataka’s political landscape was abuzz with talk of Dr C.N. Manjunath taking the political plunge, Gowda, the Janata Dal Secular supremo, had tried to dissuade his son-in-law, who had until then focused on his career as a cardiologist. Manjunath headed the state-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Bengaluru.

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Of the 35 years he served as a cardiologist, Manjunath, 66, headed the Jayadeva institute as its director for 18 years. When he retired earlier this year, none expected him to follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law, brothers-in-law, H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna, or their children.

Not only did he do the unthinkable by entering politics, Manjunath joined the BJP, attracted by the “great work of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Today, the good doctor dons the BJP colours seeking a change of heart in the Congr­ess bastion, criss-crossing the countryside and small towns around the tech capital that form the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, in his attempt to defeat D.K. Suresh, younger sibling of state Congress president and deputy ch­ief minister D.K. Shivakumar.

While Suresh sticks to his shrill pitch against the injustice being meted out to Karnataka by the Union government in terms of the meagre devolution of taxes collected from the state, the soft-spoken Manjunath is riding on his healing touch and Modi to garner votes.

Suresh, 57, has been on a mission to slam Modi and the NDA government for denying the rightful tax share to the state; Manjunath proclaims that Modi is set to take the Indian economy to third place after America and China.

The doctor goes around telling his audience that he had treated 85 lakh patients, 8 lakh of them through surgical procedures. At an election meeting at Poornaprajna Nagar near Kengeri in Bengaluru Rural, Manjunath, ho­wever, clarified that he could not take credit for all of those since a team of doctors also contributed.

“I have never sent back any patient for want of money,” he tells the audience, comprising retired government servants and youngsters.

Not known for humour, Manjunath evokes laughter from the audience by telling them that India wouldn’t have won freedom had mobile phones existed before 1947. “In my view, we wouldn’t have got freedom had there been mobile phones before 1947. Everyone would have been glued to social media to build public opinion in favour of the British.”

He was perhaps not fully aware of the social media power of his own party which can paint anything in any colour.

But Suresh, the tough-talking incumbent MP, reminded his audience at his roadshow in Yeshwantapura that Modi was choking Congress-ruled Karnataka by denying its due share of tax revenue.

“We (Karnataka) contribute Rs 4.30 lakh crore (each year) towards GST. But we get a mere Rs 50,000 crore in return. When we pay Rs 100 to the Centre in the form of taxes we get a mere Rs 13 in return, but Uttar Pradesh gets Rs 333, Bihar gets Rs 750, Rajasthan gets Rs 270,” Suresh thundered from atop an open vehicle during the roadshow on April 20.

Suresh had put his party in a spot in February with a warning of sorts when he said “We (the south) might have to seek a separate country” if the Modi government continued to deny the rightful tax share of the southern states.

While Suresh has since sought to distance himself from the controversial remarks, he continues to use inadequate tax returns from the Centre as a poll plank.

The Congress doesn’t have any doubt about the result, although the BJP-JDS camp is hoping for an upset banking on the doctor to spin some charm among the voters.

Bengaluru Rural votes on April 26

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