WATCH | Some sections are happy with guarantees of Karnataka government, but their numbers are not big: H.D. Kumaraswamy

Interview with H D Kumaraswamy
Former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy is engaged in a high-voltage battle in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency | Video Credit: The Hindu

Interview with former Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy

Updated - April 22, 2024 04:24 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2024 02:16 pm IST

JD(S) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy who is a former chief minister of Karnataka

JD(S) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy who is a former chief minister of Karnataka | Photo Credit: BHAGYA PRAKASH K

After the Assembly poll debacle in May 2023, the Janata Dal (Secular) is heading into the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP, and is contesting three seats in Karnataka. The poll is considered crucial for the regional party that is not only fighting for survival but also to retain its identity in the intensely competitive politics in the Vokkaliga dominated Old Mysore region. The Hindu caught up with former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy, who is engaged in a high-voltage battle in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency.

Excerpts from an interview

How important is this election for JD(S)?

This is a very crucial election. The challenge before JD(S) is to win all the three constituencies. We will revive the party and bounce back.

Does JD(S) still feel a threat from the Congress post your alliance with the BJP?

Serious threat is still there from Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM D.K. Shivakumar and other leaders. Their main agenda is to finish me in Mandya and H.D. Revanna’s son Prajwal Revanna in Hassan. For that, several illegal things are being done.

What is the ground reality, and why this alliance with the BJP?

Without the alliance, the Congress would have won more than 15 seats by the division of votes of BJP and JD(S). Money was also an issue if we had gone alone. Not only that, the alliance was to prevent the damage to Karnataka by the Congress government, and to remove the government. Otherwise, even without an alliance, the JD(S) on its own was capable of winning in Mandya, Kolar, Tumakuru and Hassan constituencies, going by the 2023 Assembly poll results.

Is the alliance only for this election or for the long term?

After joining hands with the BJP, we want to move with them permanently. The future of this alliance will depend on the way things will develop, and the way in which they treat us.

Is there good coordination between BJP and JD(S) workers on the ground?

Yes, though small bickering will be there in all parties. We have succeeded in achieving a mutual understanding. We have given a direction to workers and leaders to sincerely work for the victory of all alliance candidates. A small percentage of workers are not happy, but they will not impact our prospects.

Are the Congress guarantees giving you a tough time in these elections?   

We have to accept it. Guarantees were given to brainwash voters. Other than that, no development has taken place. One section of women voters is with Congress. Some sections are happy, but their numbers are not big. Majority of people want permanent solutions.

Will the prevailing water shortage and drought affect the outcome of these elections?

Yes. They will have an impact. People are not happy with the action taken to safeguard the interests of the farming community that is in an aggressive mood to kick out this government.

Why the incessant spat between you and Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar?

Nobody is a permanent enemy in politics. His unnecessary attack is the root cause. His criticism of our party and leadership is aimed at finishing our party. He wants to tarnish our image.

Will this spat divide votes of the Vokkaliga community?

There is no question of a division of votes. He cannot become the leader of the community. He has himself said that he does not want to take the name of only Vokkaligas, and that he represents everyone.

How will the alliance benefit Karnataka?

Several (Central) governments, other than H.D. Deve Gowda’s, have let down Karnataka in irrigation issues in the last 77 year. Now everyone believes that Narendra Modi is a better person for stability. We will coordinate with him and get results. We will take up Mekedatu issue that has been pending for 40 years. We have confidence that it will be fulfilled and cleared by Central institutions.

Do you think the election results will have any repercussion on the Congress government in Karnataka?

Surely some repercussions will be there. But we cannot set a deadline for that.

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