Interview with Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
LOOKING more relaxed than he ever has been in the recent past, thanks to the Union government's rejection of Governor H.R. Bhardwaj's advice to impose President's Rule in the State and the support of 122 legislators, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa says that under his government Karnataka has attained heady heights vis-a-vis other States, be it in the maintenance of law and order or fiscal soundness or even all-round development. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:
Why, in your opinion, did the Union government's Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs not heed the advice of the Governor and impose President's Rule in Karnataka?
Imposition of President's Rule would have been struck down by the court of law. I have the requisite number of legislators and would have proven my government's majority on the floor of the House. Also, I have full faith in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram. They will not do anything that is constitutionally wrong.
Your spat with Governor Bhardwaj has hurt Karnataka's image.
From the day I became Chief Minster he has tried his level best to destabilise my government. Without any valid reasons, last October he recommended President's Rule. But the Government of India sent the advice back and then the Governor asked me to take another vote of confidence. Even now, without any reason he recommended President's Rule.
In Karnataka, both the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are losing their political bases. They lost all but one of the byelections conducted after the May 2008 Assembly election. So they feel threatened and worried, and are devising ways to grab power. One of the ways is to misuse the Raj Bhavan. Bhardwaj's attitude has been to collude with the Congress and the JD(S) and destabilise my government. The BJP has asked for his recall.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda seems to be one of your loudest critics. He would like to see you go.
Deve Gowda has a history of trying to destabilise Chief Ministers and governments. He did that in the case of Ramakrishna Hegde, J.H. Patel and S.R. Bommai even though they were from his own party. Even the Congress' S.M. Krishna suffered a lot when he was the Chief Minister.
Now Deve Gowda is trying to destabilise my government. He wants the person of his choice to be made Chief Minister, as he did in the case of N. Dharam Singh [during the Congress-JD(S) coalition] and then misuse him for his own purposes. Deve Gowda's one-point agenda is that his family members should be the power centre.
Both the Congress and the JD(S) have labelled your government corrupt.
With the intention of destabilising my government, the JD(S) and Congress leaderships are unnecessarily making false charges of corruption. The misdeeds of earlier governments, be it in land allotment, grant of mining licences or denotification of land, is now public knowledge.
But your government has come to be associated with scandals, corruption. Four Ministers were forced to quit. Last December, Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu was forced to resign over a land scam.
I was not bound to remove him. My national leaders took the decision to ask him to resign. I'm sure he will come out clean. There is no evidence against him. But I'm conscious that along with development, my government's image is also important.
During the last three years, I travelled the entire State, working 18 hours a day. During the last two months, I decided that in order to improve my government's image I would sit three times a week in the Vidhana Soudha, talking to my Ministers on how to rectify our image and further improve our programme implementation.
How did you manage to win over the dissident BJP legislators?
The Congress and the JD(S) had promised them so many things, took them to Goa, Chennai, etc., and made use of them.
They had come under the clutches of those parties. The legislators realised that they were being used.
Will some of them be accommodated in the Cabinet? Your Cabinet also needs some infusion of good Ministers.
We will see. I will reshuffle my Cabinet only after the forthcoming Budget session [of the Assembly] and after consultations with my national leaders. And we already have effective Ministers.
Your government is seen as casteist, with Lingayats [the Chief Minster's caste] holding a disproportionate number of plum posts.
It is Karnataka that is Lingayat-dominated, not the BJP. All communities and sections are well represented.
Do you think you will be able to complete your term?
Certainly. Hundred per cent. The BJP will come back to power in the next election as well and rule Karnataka for the next 20-25 years.