The former Prime Minister says Congress cannot question his commitment to secularism
A veteran of many poll battles, Janata Dal (Secular) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is in the midst of another crucial electoral . The octogenarian politician was preparing to leave for campaign early on Thursday when The Hindu caught up with him.
For, the May 5 elections to the Assembly are an acid test to prove the sway of Janata Dal (Secular) over the people of the State, particularly in the light of decline in the number of seats held by his party since the 2004 elections against the perceived resurgence of the Congress and the expansion of the support base for BJP over the last few years.
In an interview with The Hindu, Mr Gowda trained his guns at the Congress for “trying to finish” his party. “In this old age, I have to go around the State to save the party, not to make my son Chief Minister”.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Why are you targeting the Congress in the campaign instead of the ruling BJP?
A: The Congress has been conspiring to finish the Janata Dal (Secular) since 2004 when a coalition government was formed, beginning with luring of the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. They have been consistently attacking me and my son and spreading canards and fuelling speculation over the JD(S) tying up with the BJP post-poll. My meeting with Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar for five times over Cauvery issue has been misinterpreted. What has the Congress done as the principal Opposition party? I have to give them a befitting reply.
Do you envisage a scenario in which the JD (S) will be joining hands with the BJP in the event of a hung Assembly?
No, No, No. There will be no hung Assembly. Why is Congress turning against me and my son? Can’t they fight with the BJP? Do I need a certificate for my secular credentials from the Congress?
You are also accused of perpetuating dynastic politics
Had I been dynastic, I would not have promoted, in the earlier days, the late G Puttaswamy Gowda in Holenarsipura nor would I have declared the late Y.K. Ramaiah as heir apparent in the party. How many leaders have betrayed me?
What is the impact of KJP’s presence in the poll scenario?
The initial euphoria over KJP’s influence on the voters has dissipated. It is the Congress party’s propaganda that Yeddyurappa’s parting of ways will weaken the BJP. But, the BJP’s committed voters are likely to return to the party as it is claiming to have cleansed itself of corrupt elements.
How much would money and caste play a role in this election?
To a certain extent, yes. But, these factors will not always prevail. However, it is not possible to contest elections within the Election Commission specified ceiling of Rs. 16 lakh on poll expenditure. It is known fact that all political parties have received funds from corporate houses. The Congress and the BJP lead the table while JD (S) has received a negligible amount according to a report. Let them touch their hearts and say they are not using money power to win elections.
Will pro-farmer image help the JD (S)?
Our party offered maximum to farmers in the manifesto. BJP which announced rice at Re. 1 per kg has not said anything about providing water to farmers to grow paddy. Is it not a contradiction?