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‘Super cop’ turned MP bets on god to win again

By Fakir Balaji, IANS,

Bangalore : H.T. Sangliana, a former IPS officer who plunged into politics after retiring as a Karnataka ‘super cop’, is lucky to be nominated for the Lok Sabha elections from India’s IT hub despite switching loyalty to the Congress from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Just as the BJP sprung a surprise by fielding him in 2004 from Bangalore North and he defeated Congress veteran C.K. Jaffer Sharief, the Congress has gone out of the way to favour the 66-year-old to contest from the newly formed Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency.

“It is by god’s grace that I am in the fray again, not by chance. I depend 100 percent on god and god’s people for my victory. I say so because I am a beginner in politics. I don’t want to be a so-called politician, which people define as a profession or occupation of scoundrels,” Sangliana told IANS.

Sangliana, who originally hails from Mizoram, continues to live with his family in a modest apartment at the National Games village in upscale Koramangala suburb.

Though fearless and unfazed, Sangliana has ‘Z’ category security provided on the express directive of outgoing Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee after he was heckled by BJP MPs and his office was ransacked by BJP cadres for voting in favour of the UPA government during the trust vote in July 2008 on the India-US nuclear deal in parliament.

Ironically, someone who protected Bangalore as the city police commissioner in 2001-02 is guarded by six commandos round-the-clock. An escort jeep accompanied him when he travels.

A day after his candidature was announced in New Delhi late Saturday, Sangliana first touched base with Congress legislators representing the assembly segments within his Lok Sabha constituency.

“I am a strong believer that god ordains each one of us for His purpose. I am twice blessed to serve the people even after retiring from 36 years of police service,” Sangliana said.

The transition to Congress following his disqualification by the BJP in August has not been smooth. Sangliana continued to face harassment from his erstwhile party cadres and was politically isolated for over eight months.

“I am not a conventional politician by definition and do not waste time in socialising or wheeling-n-dealing. Though I was deprived of discharging my duties as an MP, I remained serving the people of my constituency and attending to their problems to the best of my ability,” the former top cop recalled.

Having pipped Sharief in securing the much coveted Bangalore Central, the task is cut out for Sangliana. The constituency is not only new for him but it has witnessed polarisation after the 2008 assembly elections when the BJP grabbed 17 of the 28 assembly segments across the expanded city.

Sangliana has four Congress legislators to bank on for mobilising votes to outsmart B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and P.C. Mohan of the BJP in a triangular contest.

“I am confident of winning again as people are well aware of me. Though my constituency consists of diverse communities and a mix of citizens from other states, they are liberal, educated, articulate and cosmopolitan to judge a candidate on merits,” he said.

With a 1.9 million electorate, the constituency forms the heart of the city and has a sizeable minority voters, especially from Muslim-dominated Shivajinagar segment represented by Congress legislator Roshan Baig.

Sangliana does not think the matured electorate, particularly the youth, would vote on caste and community lines if the candidate has a clean image and is reputed for honesty, integrity and morality.

“The voters are aware of the infrastructure projects and civic works I executed in the North constituency under the MP Local Area Development Scheme. I was one of the few MPs from the state who fully utilised the corpus of Rs.20 million (Rs.2 crore) annually for developing the constituency. Even the people of that constituency are coming forward to campaign for me and testify my credentials,” an upbeat Sangliana said.

Having been a no nonsense officer in service, Sangliana does not agree that his candidature is a reward from the Congress for bailing out the UPA government.

“The fact I have been given ticket to contest from this prestigious constituency is a testimony to my ability to win. I consider it a reward for my god-given inner strength, honesty, integrity, dependability and principle against corruption and corrupt people,” Singliana added.