'We are not ready to go to the polls with the Janata Dal'

Print edition : August 14, 1999

B.S. Yediyurappa, the president of the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who is projected by the party as the next Chief Minister, has been outspoken in his opposition to an electoral alliance with the Janata Dal (Sharad Yadav). His vi ews are shared by the rest of the State unit of the party. Yediyurappa explained his stand in an interview to Parvathi Menon on August 6. Excerpts:

Are you still opposed to an alliance with the Janata Dal (Sharad Yadav)?

There is no change in our stand. We are not ready to go to elections with the Janata Dal. First, the people have rejected that party. In the last Lok Sabha elections they contested all the Lok Sabha constituencies and won just three seats; they came firs t in only 20 out of the 224 Assembly segments. Secondly, we have from the beginning, whether inside or outside the House, opposed this party. That is why we do not want to go with the Janata Dal, whether the Deve Gowda faction or the J. H. Patel faction. For the last four and a half years we have been continuously agitating against this Government. We don't have anything against J.H. Patel as an individual... in fact he is a good man, but as a Chief Minister he has failed in all respects, and many of hi s Ministers have corruption charges against them. People have rejected that party.

K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

You have said that you will ally with the Patel faction if it fights on the Lok Shakti symbol. This is being read as a sort of face-saving explanation, in a situation where you have to go along with what your central leadership wants.

The Janata Dal (Sharad Yadav) group is not going to get the chakra (wheel)symbol. That symbol will either be frozen or allotted to the other group. Afterwards, they have full liberty to join any political party. Their MLAs and workers will definitely go to the Congress, the BJP or the Lok Shakti. We do not oppose that. The BJP will face elections with the Lok Shakti. In the forefront will be Ramakrishna Hegde and the BJP leadership. So people definitely have rejected the Janata Dal, they want some chang e... we have the full confidence that the voters will support the BJP and the Lok Shakti.

So far your opposition has not been to the Janata Dal symbol; it has been to those persons who are part of that party. If the same people now adopt a new symbol, does that make them acceptable to you?

Out of 110 Janata Dal MLAs, there are a few good people, such as C. Byre Gowda. So if they join the Lok Shakti, we have no objection. After all, the voters are only against the Janata Dal.

Why has your central leadership put you in this position, where you are forced to accept into your fold a party which you opposed all these years? Why are they imposing this alliance on you?

Our central leadership is not against our stand. I spoke personally to Atalji, Advaniji and Kushabhauji. They are very much with us. They do not support Ramakrishna Hegde's and George Fernandes' efforts to make the Janata Dal a part of the National Democ ratic Alliance.

But they are going to become a part of the alliance.

That question does not arise. When they lose their symbol, the Janata Dal will not exist.

Even so, you will have to speak for people you opposed all these years. You yourself said that your party will lose credibility.

Our workers, sympathisers and voters will have no objection if a few good Janata Dal MLAs join us. This is a very unfortunate development, because at present at the Centre they are supporting our party. So if we have to take a few people for the sake of the political situation, we cannot oppose it; there is no other go for us.

What about the Lok Shakti alliance? Can you do without them?

There is no difference of opinion between the Lok Shakti and the BJP. But one thing is certain. The BJP alone will get a majority in the elections. We will be the majority partner in the alliance.

The Lok Shakti made public its displeasure at your having announced your list of candidates without consulting them.

How can they oppose this? We announced candidates only for those 13 seats where we won the last time. They can't object to this.

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