Amid speculation over Karnataka elections, there’s talk about the possibility of a hung assembly, and H.D. Deve Gowda as the kingmaker. The former PM tells Ajay Sukumaran that people want a change from both the BJP and Congress.
How different are these elections?
The difference is that the maladministration of the present government has gone too deep into people’s minds. He (Siddaramaiah) has demolished various institutions. Take for example, the Lokayukta, Public Service Commission and the Bangalore Development Authority. Police officers themselves went to the extent of requesting protection and gave a memorandum to the chief secretary. These are all major issues today. He may say this bhagya and that bhagya, it’s irrelevant. Then, the BJP misrule—in five years there were three CMs. There were also several people who went to jail.
Kumaraswamy was CM for 20 months and certain decisions he took in the coalition government are still in the mind of the people. They are comparing those with the BJP’s five-year rule with three CMs and this man’s five years’ full term. Both the BJP and Congress have brought out ‘chargesheets’ against each other. But nobody can bring chargesheets against me or my son. You cannot take people for granted, they are watching.
How many seats are you hoping to win?
Some people say the party is only a kingmaker. I’m not bothered about the BJP or Congress fighting each other or their internal struggles. I’m a firm believer in the Almighty. This time, I’m bound to get the working majority. Otherwise why should I work like this? At the same time, the press is also saying Gowda and Kumaraswamy are very soft on the BJP...that’s the impression mediawallahs are giving.
Is that not true?
No. (Laughs) Why should I go to (BSP supremo) Mayawati’s door then? Plus (Asaduddin) Owaisi has already declared his support. KCR too said he will address our rallies with his deputy CM who is a Muslim leader. All these things today will give us a majority to form the government. Last time, my son fought singlehandedly and got 40 seats. There were so many star campaigners from the BJP and they also got 40 seats. Yes, Yeddyurappa’s KJP took about 10 per cent votes. I’m not making the claim that the JD(S) is a tall party. Today, these two parties are fighting each other, but Kumaraswamy is going without using harsh words against the BJP or Congress as a whole. But Siddaramaiah is attacking left and right to destroy my image. I am a secular leader. I’m not an opportunist. Even my son, when he went with the BJP, he had D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who was then the president of the ruling ally, arrested at Datta Peetha. He never cared.
In 2004, l wanted to make Siddaramaiah the CM but the Congress, following discussions after discussions, said we’ll go for polls. Then I forced him to accept the deputy CM’s post. Now, he wants to say, he’s a secular leader and Gowda is an opportunist. Rubbish!
Both the BJP and Congress say Karnataka will set the mood for 2019 parliamentary polls…
I agree to some extent. If a regional party that has suffered for the last 10 years is raising its head, it will naturally be an indication for the 2019 election. Or worse, a neck-and-neck fight between all three parties. That is also an indication.
In 2009, there was a bid to form a third front? Will it happen in 2019?
Some people are thinking to form a front minus the BJP and Congress. Some people want to take the Congress along. How it will culminate, we have to see in the coming days. Perhaps some alternate to the BJP and Congress may come together and move forward.