Interview: H.D. Deve Gowda

'Alliance is the need of the hour'

Print edition : June 08, 2018

H.D. Deve Gowda. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Interview with H.D. Deve Gowda.

HARADANAHALLI Doddegowda Deve Gowda, 85, wears his years rather lightly. Just back from a tiring pilgrimage, the patriarch of the Janata Dal (Secular) and former Prime Minister is besieged with requests for press interviews even as crowds of his supporters want to wish him on his birthday, May 18. With the Congress having offered unconditional support to his JD(S) in the formation of a coalition government to be headed by his son, H.D. Kumaraswamy, the political fortunes of his party could not be better. Excerpts from a conversation with Frontline:

Are you happy with the alliance between the JD(S) and the Congress? The Bharatiya Janata Party has called it an unholy alliance.

It [the alliance] is the need of the hour. My secular credentials are well known, so by tying up with the Congress I am not going against this ideology of mine. I advised H.D. Kumaraswamy to accept the Congress’ offer [of unconditional support in the formation of the government] and he agreed without hesitation. He said he would go as per his father’s wishes.

The party, Kumaraswamy and our legislators have stayed away from whatever temptations that have been made by the BJP and its leadership.

Kumaraswamy had tied up with the BJP in 2006, a decision he justifies by saying that he had to do it because the Congress was trying to demolish the JD(S).

Yes. That decision of Kumaraswamy became a major talking point during the recent election campaign. And during the campaign it harmed me and it harmed them [Congress] also. It cost them around 15 to 18 seats, while it cost me 30 seats. We have even identified these seats.

Do you trust the Congress?

(Laughs)… Can you trust the BJP? In the BJP there are so many organisations like the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] that every day have their own agendas. It is a very tough situation [for anyone to be in an alliance with the BJP]. And, anyway, the country does not want the divisive policies of the BJP. During the last four years the country has been suffering.

The reason I ask you whether you trust the Congress is that recently too you had told me that the Congress wanted to destroy your party. Kumaraswamy also echoed this.

Yes. The Congress certainly wanted to destroy the JD(S).

Did the chairperson of the UPA, Sonia Gandhi, speak to you prior to the announcement of the JD(S)-Congress alliance?

Yes, she did. Rahul Gandhi also subsequently spoke to me.

After all the war of words between the JD(S) and the Congress during the election campaign—with the JD(S) being called as the “B team” of the BJP, and that the ‘S’ in JD(S) stands for Sangh—will you be comfortable working with the Congress?

I don’t want to say anything about this. These things happen in an election campaign. I have shaken hands and forgotten all these things. They [Congress] have forgotten all this. So we need to go forward with seriousness and with no doubt.

The criticism is that your party with only 38 seats did not receive the mandate of the people.

The people’s mandate is for 116, [the total number of seats of the Congress and the JD(S)] not for 104 [the BJP’s tally].

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