‘My resignation as Chief Minister is only a temporary measure'
It was by sheer chance and in the most unlikely place that The Hindu met the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa — aboard the Hampi Express. Bound for Koppal to campaign for the September 26 Koppal Assembly Constituency byelection, he agreed to an on-the-spot interview.
In the crammed First Class A/C compartment, Mr. Yeddyurappa spoke candidly about the byelection and the central Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership's decision to remove him from his post.
Q: What are your party's prospects?
A: No one else has a future. Our achievements over the last three and a half years have stayed firmly in the public mind. Also, there is no leadership in the Congress, and the Janata Dal (Secular) is growing weak day by day. We have consolidated our strength and sunk our differences.
Q: But the BJP has its own share of troubles and scandals to deal with. Have they not dented its image?
A: I won't say no. People hatched conspiracies in a systematic way. And our central leadership too did not take the right decision. Attempts to remove me from the post of Chief Minister have occurred several times ever since I took over. But I had somehow managed to stay on. This time, the central leadership felt they could easily extract the resignation of Sheila Dixit [Delhi Chief Minister], and even the Prime Minister, if I stepped down. They hastily asked me to resign saying I could be a hindrance. Mind you, as a temporary measure. But they have not been able to achieve anything, though I became a scapegoat. Now they too realise that.
Q: Are you saying the central leadership will rue their decision?
A: They already are.
Q: Will they do anything remedial?
A: As I said, according to me, this is a temporary phase.
Q: The Koppal byelection is being held under the joint leadership of D.V. Sadananda Gowda, K.S. Eshwarappa and yourself. There was news you resented this.
A: Not at all. There is a Chief Minister and a party president; I am working as an MLA. People know who Yeddyurappa is and what his strengths are. So I am not bothered about these small things. I will do my duty.
Q: The incident of you giving a Rs. 1,000-note to an artiste at Koppal became controversial.…
A: That was silly. An artiste performed before me and I gave him money as is traditionally done. I have explained this to the Election Commission.
Q: Will the absence of the Reddy brothers' in these elections have any impact on the party's performance?
A: Not at all… (pauses). In fact, it is because of my bold decision that illegal mining was stopped in Karnataka. That has been lauded by all as a big achievement. People of the State know this.
Q: Would you say that Koppal is a prestige issue and a testing ground?
A: We have won so many byelections that were earlier strongholds of the Congress and the JD(S).
We are now in a place that was held by the JD(S). We have not won here before. This time we will.