State Janata Dal (S) president H.D. Kumaraswamy, who is known for his unorthodox approach and shrewd political manoeuvring, is leaving no stone unturned to make the most of the May 5 elections.
Shouldering the responsibility of shoring up the JD(S), Mr. Kumaraswamy is trying to build the party “brick by brick” in north Karnataka, where it has no base.
He is confident of grabbing “some seats” in the south where the party is considered to have a sizeable following. His promises include one-time loan waiver for farmers, ban on arrack and lottery, and bicycles for girl students. He spoke to The Hindu on the poll scenario. Excerpts:
Q: Will campaigning by national leaders of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party affect the prospects of the JD(S)?
A: Their campaigns will not alter the situation as most of them focus on national issues rather than issues related to the State. Many of them don’t know the problems at the grassroots in the State. Crowds at their campaign meetings were also disappointing. Those that came were a paid crowd, which will not convert to votes.
So is the case with people attending your election meetings.
Yes, it was the reality earlier. Now the situation has completely changed. You will also see it after May 8.
You have emerged as the most-preferred chief ministerial candidate in a recent poll survey, which forecast 34 to 44 seats for your party.
Though elated, I am sceptical about the survey. It is completely contradictory. How can those who prefer me as Chief Minister reject my party? A party should get required numbers to elect its leader as head of the State. I am confident of getting more seats. While earlier surveys gave me 15 to 20, this survey increased the number to 40 plus seats. The survey was conducted before announcement of ticket. Now it is different; rebellion in most constituencies has died down and rebels have backed off from the fray. The situation will improve in three days. Poll pundits predict that JD(S) will get four seats in Hassan. But we will win all seven.
What will the JD(S) do in the event of a hung Assembly?
We don’t mind sitting in the Opposition. But I am confident that the JD(S) will get the required numbers.
The JD(S) is targeting only the Congress and not the BJP in its campaign. This has led to speculation of a secret pact with the BJP.
It is a fight between the Congress and the JD(S) in most of the constituencies. What will we achieve by targeting the BJP where the party has no relevance? As far as a secret pact is concerned, it is a figment of the Congress’s imagination.
What is the hurdle the JD(S) faces?
Money, of course. Our candidates are not a match for the moneybags of the BJP and the Congress.