The ideology is only in speeches

Published : Nov 16, 2007 00:00 IST

H. D. Kumaraswamy: You cant trust anybody in politics today. - AIJAZ RAHI/AP

H. D. Kumaraswamy: You cant trust anybody in politics today. - AIJAZ RAHI/AP

Interview with former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

H. D. Kumaraswamy:

IN October, Karnataka was mired in political shenanigans and uncertainties. With the transfer of power from the Janata Dal (Secular) to its coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), not taking off, hell broke loose as the political parties and their leaders tried every trick to cobble together a government. The person at the centre of the turmoil, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, spoke to Frontline on the issues involved. Excerpts:

The transfer of power to the BJP did not go off smoothly. The popular perception is that while you wanted to transfer power, your family, especially your father [former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda], stopped you. Was this a mistake?

Though everybody thinks so, it was not my family that stopped power being transferred. On the night of October 1, I called a meeting of JD(S) legislators and asked them to express freely their feelings and opinions on the situation and said that I wanted their permission to resign. I told them not to be afraid of my father and said I would convince him [on the decision to transfer power]. But all the MLAs said, You must continue, considering the incidents that have taken place over the last 15 days. They cited the violence at [Tamil Nadu Chief Minister] M. Karunanidhis daughters house in Bangalore, the burning of a bus and the death of two people who were on the bus. They said that without discussing these issues there was no necessity to transfer power.

As for the attack on Karunanidhis daughters house by Bajrang Dal and the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] youth, I know that these people are not in the hands of BJP leaders. These leaders are in the hands of these youth. During my tenure, two or three communal clashes took place near Mangalore, and at that time also these [BJP] leaders were helpless. They do not have the capacity to control these boys.

You are saying the BJPs refusal to hold talks prevented you from transferring power?

Yes. On September 30, Yashwant Sinha (the BJPs point man for Karnataka) came to Bangalore. We had not invited him but he came and met my father at 2 a.m. for almost two hours. Even then my father said he wanted to hand over power provided three or four issues were discussed; like the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises expressway project, over which my BJP friends had boycotted a Cabinet meeting for nearly six hours, forcing me to remove that subject. I bent to their pressure.

My father also wanted clarifications from BJP leaders in Delhi as to why the BJP supported and encouraged the MLC G. Janardhana Reddy when he made charges against me, and over the Bababudangiri-Datta Peetha issue.

My father said that before power was transferred, BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, H.N. Ananth Kumar and [former Deputy Chief Minister] B.S. Yeddyurappa should first discuss with him, JD(S) leader M.P. Prakash and myself these issues.

Sinha promised my father that he would go back to Delhi and the meeting would be convened. But he stayed on in Bangalore. And the BJP said it was not necessary to discuss anything. On October 5, I sent my friend N. Cheluvarayaswamy (former Transport Minister) to speak to Yeddyurappa, but even he said, no question of talks, please send your resignation. Even BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu came to Bangalore, attacked us and said no more talks.

Considering the bitterness between the two parties, what future does a coalition government have?

The way in which I ran the government for 20 months, giving even the common man, who normally cannot meet even a panchayat member, the opportunity to come and meet me with his problems, gives me the confidence that I can win over the peoples hearts.

But all the bitterness...

Yes, we discussed some issues with the BJP leaders [in Delhi] and decided to continue our arrangement in Karnataka.

Yes, but Deve Gowda has raised some issues in the form of a memorandum that the two parties have to sign. These issues could cause problems since the BJP has said that the JD(S)s support is unconditional.

No. Only with some conditions did my father agree to give support to the BJP. Even when Yeddyurappa met my father all these issues were narrated. But Im not bothered about these issues, nor about the allegations made against me by some BJP leaders. People feel that the tenure of this Assembly should not be curtailed and it should run its full term [until May 2009].

People meaning legislators?

Yes. Legislators of all parties are afraid of facing the electorate. With this in mind some of our legislators wanted to go with the Congress. But I advised them against it, since going with the Congress will affect the JD(S). During the [standoff] between the JD(S) and the BJP, the Congress tried to destabilise our party. It started pressuring our MLAs by offering inducements, including Rs.10 crore for each of them. To save the party, I requested my father to allow us to form the government with the BJP. And he had no hesitation.

What about his ideology to shun the communal BJP?

There is no compromise on his ideology. That is why he wrote to Rajnath Singh regarding the protection of minorities, backward classes and Dalits. Anyway, on communalism, I have no faith in what political parties profess. In public meetings all of them profess an ideology but the lack of its implementation has been demonstrated over the past 50 years. The ideology is only in speeches.

Even the BJP did not implement its communal ideology when it ran the government at the Centre for five years. Political parties only publicly discuss ideology to win peoples votes.

Politicians from the undivided Janata Dal who gravitated to the Congress were pushing for a JD(S)-Congress coalition. Is this why Prakash went down this route?

I dont want to blame Prakash. Our legislators want to form a government with anybody and avoid early elections. That is why Prakash moved with some Congress leaders in Delhi. Some Congress leaders from Karnataka spread the news that the Congress was ready to form a government with the JD(S) but without Deve Gowda and his family. That hastened us to go to the BJP. Even the BJP has been stating publicly that they are ready for polls but privately they are moving with us. Even some RSS functionaries have been contacting us every day and requesting that we form the government with the BJP.

In Karnataka, the Congress is your enemy?

Ever since the 2004 elections, even though they took our support they have been trying to split the JD(S). They first won over Siddaramaiah and a few MLAs who went with him. They have still not stopped. The Congress wants to weaken us and gain strength. Today the main decisions in the Congress in Karnataka are taken by former Janata Dal leaders like Siddaramaiah, Ramesh Kumar, V.S. Ugrappa, R. Jalappa and C.M. Ebrahim. The Congress is now a divided house.

But you would have still formed a government with the Congress if it had acted faster?

If they genuinely wanted to form a government with our party, that could have happened.

The electorate is disgusted with the tamasha that has been enacted. Is it not better to go in for elections?

Personally, Im totally disgusted with the incidents that took place. Im totally hurt by both my BJP friends and also my own party. Personally, I wanted to hand over charge, but circumstances forced me to go against my conscience.

Can you trust the BJP?

Today in politics you cant trust anybody because everybody takes decisions to get themselves benefits and personal gains. The BJP was not in a position to get power in Karnataka even in the next 50 years, but I have given it support. Of course, it is only with the BJPs help that I became Chief Minister. The way their leaders reacted after their MLA Janardhana Reddy directly accused me of involvement in a Rs.150-crore scam made me lose faith in the word trust. Today, in politics, trust is a meaningless word.

The BJP has accused you of breaking a promise, and called you a Vachana Bhrashta.

The BJP, before coming to power at the Centre in 1999, promised the country that it would build the Ram temple at Ayodhya. It also showed a few bricks and collected over a thousand crore rupees. But even after running the government for five years it did not fulfil that promise.

Again, Kalyan Singh, as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, promised the court that his government would protect the Babri Masjid. But he failed to keep that promise. Compared with those promises, I only made a promise to one man,Yeddyurappa.

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