Opposition should sink its differences: H.D. Deve Gowda

Goal to unseat the BJP can be achieved only by going along with the Congress, says former PM

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:35 am IST

Published - January 28, 2019 10:50 pm IST

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. File

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. File

Former Prime MinisterH.D. Deve Gowda appears to be upset with the Congress. Mr. Gowda, who took the initiative of bringing together non-BJP leaders on a common platform and sending a strong signal to the BJP-led NDA eight months ago says people have to be made confident that a Congress-led front would offer a stable government for five years. However, he says it is not right to blame the Congress alone on issues related to consolidation of the Opposition. Regional parties should also understand the ground realities and make sacrifices to a certain extent. Excerpts from an interview:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has targeted the Opposition plans for an alliance as a choice between a majboot and majboor (strong and weak) government, besides describing Opposition unity as ‘comical’ and ‘opportunistic’.

If the grand alliance can’t understand its problems and address them, there is no point in reacting to the criticism of Mr. Modi. People of the country want a stable government. With the polls to the Lok Sabha round the corner, leaders of the Opposition should sink their differences and provide a clear road map on how they plan to provide a stable government for five years and ensure good governance. Regional parties, which came together with an idea of fighting the threat to secular and democratic values should sit together and discuss the modalities of seat sharing with an open mind. It is better to understand that the goal will be achieved only by going with the Congress. But, the rift between the regional parties and the Congress has provided Mr. Modi an opportunity to attack the grand alliance plan. Mr. Modi is all set to destroy the secular nature of the country and all constitutional institutions.


What was the trigger for the differences in the Opposition ranks?

The leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mayawati, sought 10 seats in the recent polls to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. The Congress could have conceded the demand. But it did not. The BSP won two seats in Madhya Pradesh and six seats in Rajasthan. This development resulted in the coming together of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in Uttar Pradesh and the Congress deciding to contest independently. I don’t consider this as a failure, but a significant political development, which created confidence in Mr. Modi to attack Opposition unity as a failed experiment. The confidence of Mr. Modi, which got dented with the initiation of the plans for a grand alliance after the Opposition leaders came on a common platform during the swearing-in of H.D. Kumaraswamy as Karnataka Chief Minister, got reinvigorated with the differences in the Opposition.

Is there still room for a course correction?

Of course. But, the Congress is yet to warm to the idea of a united fight against the BJP. The Congress could have taken forward the unity of the Opposition by organising rallies with regional parties, which are eager to support it, across the country. Had the Congress done this, a formidable Opposition combine would have taken shape by this time. However, it has been eight months since the national leaders congregated for a show of strength in Bengaluru.


But, the BJP wants to know who is the Opposition’s choice for the Prime Minister’s post?

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a natural choice. None of us are competing for the coveted post. And that is why, the Congress can present the Opposition vision for the country.

Will the entry of Priyanka Gandhi change the prospects of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls?

I think Priyanka Gandhi will do better than Rahul Gandhi. For the general public, her appearance has certain qualities of her grandmother [Indira Gandhi] and the Congress is sure to benefit. If her entry helps the Congress, I will be the happiest person.

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