HD Deve Gowda
had famously said he would rise from the dust when he stepped down as prime minister in 1997 owing to implosion engineered by the then
leadership. Now, a year after he was defeated and his party decimated in the
, he is back in action and all set to enter the
as both Congress and BJP facilitated his unanimous election by not fielding candidates against him. However, Gowda insists that he is not a consensus candidate and he is not obligated to any party, while he does not forget to thank Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her bonhomie. In a candid chat with TOI, the patriarch opened up on his priorities aimed at protecting his regional party from getting smashed by two national parties. Excerpts:
What is the role you are looking for yourself when the oposition parties have been dwarfed by the mighty strength of the ruling BJP?
This is exactly what the issue is. The BJP taking advantage of the lower strength of the opposition parties has passed several bills which are not in the interest of country’s wellbeing. For instance, revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was not NDA’s agenda, but it was an hidden agenda of the sangh parivar and it was the stated objective of the BJP’s erstwhile avatar Jan Sangh. We need to stop this juggernaut from rolling at least in the Rajya Sabha since BJP still got no majority in the upper house. While I can do my bit, the presence of a veteran like
will definitely help.
Strengthening the opposition voice is what you are advocating through your candidature…
Exactly. The way BJP government is handling the covid crisis is being appreciated since certain steps it took were effective in curbing the pandemic. But, the financial package it announced is not in conformity with the round reality. Benefit did not reach the needy. Economy is in bad shape and we need a strong opposition to keep the government on the right track.
But, your election to Rajya Sabha was only possible because of the BJP’s decision not put candidate against you so as Congress. Are you not obligated to them ?
No, I am not a consensus candidate of these parties. So, there is no question of being obligated to anybody. It was the BJP’s decision not to put the third candidate as it could only win two seats out of four going to polls, given that Rs numerical strength in the
assembly. There was pressure on Sonia Gandhi to put second candidate after she announced only Kharge’s candidature. She did not yield to pressure and chose not to field a candidate against me.
What if there was election? The BJP could have lured your MLAs for cross voting…
I was aware of their design. As they would have 27 surplus votes after winning two seats, 18 more votes were needed to win the third seat. The BJP leaders could hardly get two of our MLAs to vote for their candidate. Knowing this very well, they refrained from fielding the third candidate. If they had fielded ,then I would have fought. I am never afraid of elections.
But, you profusely thanked Sonia Gandhi…
Yes, I am thankful to Sonia and
for their bonhomie. I had a chat when she convened a video conference with the like-minded parties last month . On Sunday night I again spoke to her and she told me that she missed me in the Lok Sabha and informed me that the Congress had fielded only one candidate. This was the only other time I spoke, after the Lok Sabha debacle wherein she had called me and asked as to what happened in Tumakuru (his defeat in the Lok Sabha polls). She said the Parliament had lost me. At that time, I told her that what happened had happened and cannot be changed. I can understand the rest, reading in-between lines.
So, it was not your first move to seek her party’s support ?
I did not approach anybody. But, what I know is that HD Kumaraswamy broach the subject after our MLAs unanimously resolved to field me with Congress general secretors KC Venugopal, who in turn communicated to Sonia. She didn’t take a minute to decide.
Is it an indication of a renewed efforts of the secular forces coming together against BJP ?
Certainly. I in fact told Sonia when she called the video conference that it was the best decision she took though it was a little late. We should have been united much early.
So, in Karnataka, the JD(S)-Congress alliance is yet again on cards ?
It is up to the Congress national leadership is to decide.
Facilitating your Rajya Sabha entry seem to be advantageous for KPCC president
who is nursing chief ministerial aspirations by emerging as a Vokkailga leader…
If the Congress on its own wins a majority in the next assembly polls, then it will free to decide on its choice for chief minister. Shivakumar and my son HD Kumaraswamy are good friends. If it falls short of majority then I am there to support Congress.
Siddaramaiah camp is still up there to put hurdles for the possible alliance…
I don’t want to comment on it. My priority is to my regional party against the might of the national parties. In know there are challenges, but nobody can demolish JD(S).