Deputy chief minister G. Parameshwar has been actively campaigning in Tumakuru and Bengaluru city and has virtually taken upon himself the task of campaigning for Janata Dal (S) supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda in Tumakauru which is his home turf. Though it is an uphill task, Dr Parameshwar feels that voters of both the parties in Tumakuru will follow coalition dharma and vote for Mr Gowda. In an interview with Bhaskar Hegde, Dr Parameshwar made an interesting observation that since the Congress party was going through a bad patch in Indian politics, it had to go in for pacts with like-minded parties. Unlike other leaders, he feels the coalition in Karnataka might last long the way the political partnership between the NCP and Congress blossomed in Maharashtra over the years. Excerpts:
How is the campaign going?
It’s in full swing. All the candidates have filed nominations and started campaigning.
What kind of feedback have you got so far from the early campaign meetings?
I can confidently say that there is no Modi wave. People have started questioning BJP more and more aggressively. In 2014 voters blindly believed the candidate and the leader of that party. Now, after five years voters are left with more questions and no answers from their leaders. There is no BJP wave. People are upbeat about the Congress manifesto.
But in Karnataka, the decision of the Congress and JD (S) to go it together might have sent a confusing signal and from Mandya and Hassan to Ballari, workers do not seem to be in a mood to listen to leaders..
This is partly true. There was confusion about sharing of seats. Now that we decided on it, it's a matter of time we sort out the issues.
When you formed the coalition, you knew that you had to fight the LS elections jointly. You could have finished the seat sharing agreement six month before the elections?
Internally in the Congress, we did discuss at length about this issue. First, we decided that the 10 sitting seats we have would not be give up. It is not practical to finish talks six months before the elections. Every time we say that the next time we will announce candidates six months before the elections, it does not happen. In my eight years as KPCC president, I realized that.
Coming back to the confusion between coalition partners, do you think, voters of both the parties would cast vote for candidates of the coalition partner?
I agree, it may not happen 100 per cent. In the sense that all voters of one party will not support the candidate belonging to the other party in the coalition. I guess if they don't want to vote, they will refrain from voting. I don't think they will go and support the BJP. There is no way that will happen.
You say the coalition is going strong. The arithmetic is fine but the chemistry is missing between workers of both parties.
This is a very rare situation. When the country is in danger, we should unite. Till the Congress gets stronger, this arrangement may continue across the country. See, we did extremely well in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. It is a matter of time before we regain our ground. Till then, we may go in for coalitions. Perhaps, we may go in for a coalition in Karnataka like we did in Maharashtra where the NCP and Congress are together for a long time. I think, we may have to go with the JD (S) even after this election.
Veteran BJP leader, S.M. Krishna said that the coalition government has failed Bengaluru city. Comment.
He is a senior leader. I respect him a lot. I think he is not well informed about what’s happening in the city. Be it the metro, Cauvery V stage or white-toppping of roads, we are doing world class infrastructure projects.
Though it is too early to predict, still how many seats do you think the coalition can win?
I think we can easily cross 20 plus. No doubt about it.