Interview: H.D. Deve Gowda

‘I do not want to strain our ties with the Congress’

Print edition : August 16, 2019

H.D.Devegowda. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Interview with H.D. Deve Gowda, Janata Dal (Secular) supremo.

AT 86, Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister and patriarch of the Janata Dal (Secular), finds it imperative to urgently rebuild, refurbish and resurrect his own and his party’s dwindling political fortunes. Now in the twilight of his over half-a-century-long political career, Deve Gowda saw his party getting thrashed in the Lok Sabha election and his son H.D. Kumaraswamy’s government getting defeated in the space of two tumultuous months. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

What are your views on the current political uncertainty in Karnataka?

The BJP under B.S. Yediyurappa is forming the government. But does he have the numbers to form a stable government? Let us see.

Your tone suggests that you feel midterm elections are around the corner and I think the State might go in for elections in two months or so. Is your party, the JD(S), ready for elections?

I am ready for elections. My party will get 30 to 40 seats [in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly].

In the event of a midterm election, will you continue with your party’s alliance with the Congress?

Of the 15 legislators who walked out of the coalition and went to Mumbai causing the crisis in the Kumaraswamy government, 12 are from the Congress. The Congress was not able to keep its people together. But I do not want to say something that hurts my Congress friends. I do not want to strain our ties with the Congress. With regard to your question on an alliance with the Congress, we have already had a coalition. What is the point of having any other kind of tie-up? All three parties—the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S)—will go (fight) separately.

One of the main complaints of the rebel Congress legislators was that they were not happy with the leadership of Kumaraswamy, and the alleged interference in their constituencies from your other son, H.D. Revanna….

Yes, the rebels demanded that Kumaraswamy should be replaced. Now that Kumaraswamy has been forced to step down again, going with the Congress is pointless. Of course, it is left to the Congress high command to take a call. Then there will be issues like seat sharing…and here in Karnataka, every Congress leader has his own ideas. My son was forced to demit office…I don’t want to broach that subject [on an alliance] with everyone. Let the people decide.

Three of your party’s legislators turned rebels. Will you take them back if they ask?

No.

One of the three legislators is A.H. Vishwanath, the senior politician from Hunsur who left the Congress and joined your party prior to the May 2018 elections. You made him the JD(S) State president. Why did he turn rebel?

I don’t want to talk about him. I have been hurt very badly by him.

Kumaraswamy meets you almost on a daily basis. What is his state of mind after being dethroned, many would say, quite unceremoniously?

He is relieved of all tensions.

At 86, what next for Deve Gowda?

(Laughs) Let us see. I want to organise a workers’ meeting. A meeting of only committed workers of the party.

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