The very concept of ‘double engine’ government is against spirit of Constitution and is a threat: Sudhindra Kulkarni

Sudhindra Kulkarni, who worked closely with former PM A. B. Vajpayee and BJP stalwart L. K. Advani, says outcome of Karnataka Assembly elections will have an extraordinary impact on 2024 Lok Sabha polls

Updated - May 04, 2023 12:19 pm IST

Published - May 04, 2023 11:40 am IST - Bengaluru

Sudhindra Kulkarni is a political activist, who once worked closely with former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and BJP stalwart L. K. Advani, but is now a bitter critic of the BJP.

Sudhindra Kulkarni is a political activist, who once worked closely with former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and BJP stalwart L. K. Advani, but is now a bitter critic of the BJP. | Photo Credit: B. S. Satish Kumar

Political activist Sudhindra Kulkarni, who once worked closely with former Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and BJP stalwart L. K. Advani, is now a bitter critic of the BJP. He is touring Karnataka as part of efforts to unite the opposition ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

In an interview with The Hindu, he sought to demolish the BJP’s main plank of ‘double engine government’ by arguing that it is opposed to the spirit of the Constitution that describes India as a union of States. 

Excerpts from the interview 

How significant are these elections from the national point of view and what according to you are the main poll issues? 

The ongoing elections are extremely important not only for the State, but also for the country. This election will have an extraordinary impact on 2024 parliamentary polls. 

Nationally, a picture is being created that there is no alternative to the BJP as well as Mr. Modi and that there is going to be a walkover. BJP is very good in manufacturing an atmosphere of invincibility. This atmosphere will be then sought to be validated and supported by the outcome of elections to various States. Of the State elections, the most important in the cycle between now and 2024 is Karnataka, as BJP is already in power here. If the BJP returns to power in Karnataka, even if it does not have mandate of people (through Operation Kamala), it will be advertised as BJP’s invincibility. Therefore, there is a big challenge before the opposition parties of proving that the BJP can not only be defeated, but also in a convincible manner so that they cannot subvert people’s mandate. Such a thing will boost the morale of opposition parties in several other States and accelerate the process of opposition unity. 

People of Karnataka should effect not just a change, but political stability with unassailable change so that it cannot be subverted through ‘Operation Kamala’, which is not only financial corruption, but also political corruption. 

BJP has been seeking votes on the ground that a double engine government will usher in a fast paced development. What is your take on this? 

The very concept of double engine government is an insult to the Constitution that says India is a union of States. Double engine concept means that the States have to be at the mercy of the Centre. They are actually saying that if there is a State not run by the BJP, then it will not have the same kind of treatment as that of the BJP regime. This is blackmail politics. It is not just Congress mukt-Bharat, but an opposition mukt-Bharat. One nation, one party and one government. This is the meaning of the double engine sarkar. 

You had asked the Congress to be more politically accommodative. Do you see such a thing happening? 

When I say politically accommodative, it has different meanings. At one level, it means that the Congress should not try to monopolise all the political space for itself. It should have accommodated Dalit organisations, farmers and left parties to a bigger extent.  

There is another ideological and conceptual meaning. The Congress has to win back the Hindu mind of India. The main reason for the steep decline of the Congress is because a very large section of Hindu society, especially the middle class and educated class and young people have begun to see the Congress as not representing their aspirations. Of course, the BJP’s propaganda has a big role. But why has the Congress allowed such a perception to gain ground?

I am not advocating politics of Hindu communalism. But we must respond to Hindu concerns and aspirations in a non-communal way. Not everything about Hindu concerns and aspirations is communal. We must understand what is going on in Hindu minds today.

Today, BJP is attacking Nehru on all fronts, including by painting him as anti-Hindu. In fact, Nehru was not anti-Hindu and he was proud of his Hindu heritage. This is where the Congress has failed and given a big space to the BJP. BJP has identified Hindu aspirations with nationalism. Therefore, they are building a big picture that greatness of India is dependent on Hindu power. What they say Hindu power is to the exclusion of minorities. The Congress has to be inclusive and non-discriminatory. Hinduism itself is not discriminatory. If I am proud of my Hinduism in a true sense, then I shall never hate non-Hindus. Because my Hinduism teaches to respect all faiths. This is true secularism. 

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