Interview: M. Veerappa Moily

'Karnataka has stopped communal forces'

Print edition : June 08, 2018

M. Veerappa Moily. Photo: THE HINDU Archives

Interview with former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily.

MARPADI Veerappa Moily, one of the Congress’ tallest leaders from south India, represents Chikballapur Lok Sabha constituency. He pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, walking away from the floor of the Assembly even before the national anthem could be played demonstrated the saffron party’s “scant regard for democratic norms and the Constitution”. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline.

It almost looks like the Congress has been forced to provide unconditional support to the Janata Dal (Secular)….

For the sake of the State and the country, we have decided to come together. And the fact that both our and the JD(S)’ legislators stayed firm and united, showing integrity despite the temptations, inducements and manoeuvres from the BJP, and paved the way for a new Congress-JD(S) coalition shows our commitment to high principles.

But you have come together despite the experience of 2004 when the Congress-JD(S) coalition government provided what many say was the worst administration in Karnataka.

We had to come together. This coalition had to happen because there had to be a consolidation of secular forces that could stop the march of communal forces. Karnataka has halted the march of communal forces. We have halted the BJP capturing power. The interference of B.S. Yeddyurappa broke the Congress-JD(S) government in 2006.

The BJP, including Yeddyurappa, looked confident right until the morning of the day of the trust vote and insisted that they would sail through…

Yes, you are right. The BJP was hoping that they would lure some of our legislators through an exercise like Operation Kamala [the name given to the BJP’s effort to increase its tally of seats in the Assembly in 2008]. Yeddyurappa himself thought, through the “support” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, he would win the trust vote. But both the Congress and the JD(S) were determined not to allow this. And we succeeded. The BJP is trapped in the arrogance of power.

But the results of the 2018 Assembly elections have been poor for the Congress in Karnataka, to say the least. Your seats have come down from 122 to 78, though your vote share is the best.

Yes, we got over 38 per cent of the votes. But, yes, a few things have to be set right. We have a future in Karnataka.

You have said that the Congress did not get the caste combinations right in these elections.

We need to handle the architecture of caste in a more sensitive way.

Outgoing Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been accused of supporting only his caste, Kurubas. Vokkaligas are angry with the Congress.

That is not true. Siddaramaiah had given equal importance to all castes and communities. This feeling should not be there in anyone.

Though the Congress won more seats than the JD(S), it will have to be content with being the junior partner. Is the party comfortable with playing second fiddle?

There is no senior or junior partner in this coalition. It is an arrangement between the Congress, the JD(S) and independents. All of us need to come together to provide good governance and meet the aspirations of the people. And since the ideologies of both the Congress and the JD(S) are not poles apart, it will not be impossible to work out a working common minimum programme.

Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala invited the single largest party to form the government. But as it has transpired, the party with 37 seats….

(Interrupting) The Congress-JD(S)-independents alliance has 118 seats. The BJP did not think of the Bommai [judgment] formula [of calling on the single largest party to form the government] in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya. In those States they played a trick on us.

Keeping in mind that the parliamentary elections are hardly a year away, how important is the formation of a non-BJP government in Karnataka?

Very. The coalition has shown that new avenues can open up to fight communal forces. Karnataka [in the shape of the JD(S)] has the flavour of a regional force. In other States too, this sort of consolidation of secular forces should take place.

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