'It was a well-planned conspiracy'

Print edition : July 31, 1999
Interview with H.D. Deve Gowda.

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, who has been made president of one of the Janata Dal groups following the split in the party, plans to undertake a tour of the country. In an interview to S.K. Pande, Deve Gowda conceded that the Janat a Dal was going through a difficult and challenging period. He blamed the media and "power brokers" for destabilising the party. Excerpts:

How do you view the current crisis in the Janata Dal?

The situation was engineered over the last three years, with the media, power brokers and others wanting to project me and certain other members of the party as villains. It was a well-planned conspiracy aimed at destabilising the Janata Dal. Now it is o ut in the open. Without being over-ambitious, in the short term, by selecting a few specific areas, we can show part of our strength. In the long term, however, the Janata Dal has to be revamped.

What is the party's position in Karnataka?

It is not a question of majority or minority. All those who are committed to the party's basic ideology will remain this way, that is, with us. The thrust will be to keep the Congress(I) and the Bharatiya Janata Party out. There will be many developments in Karnataka.

Now that you are your party's president, what are your plans?

The long-term plan is to revive the party at the grassroots level. However, this is a tall order and it is unrealistic as of now. Tall claims will not be of any use. We have to press for seats in places where we matter. I will tour the country after a me eting in Karnataka and another in Delhi.

What is your overview of the general situation?

Very fluid indeed. As far as we are concerned, a clear picture has begun to emerge to some extent. In Kerala we will align with the Left, and in Maharashtra we hope to tie up with Sharad Pawar. State-wise, we will not have too many problems in Tamil Nadu , Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, to name a few. In Karnataka, the situation will be ultimately helpful to us.

Are you going to approach the Election Commission to stake your claim to be declared the real Janata Dal?

Yes, we are going to approach the Election Commission immediately. Our case is foolproof.

You say that your group is the real Janata Dal. Could you elaborate?

We believe in the philosophy of the Janata Dal. We are upholding the view of the majority of members of the Political Affairs Committee, that is, opposition to any association with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Eleven of the 16 members of the PAC are with us.

How would you sum up the situation?

I would put it this way. It is an extremely fluid situation and there will be many quick developments over the next few days. Ultimately, we will be seen as a party with an ideology, principles and credibility. It is too early to call it the end of the J anata Dal experiment. In any case, I have no problem in swimming against the tide when it has to be done. The tide can also change. Watch the pattern of alignments and realignments.

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