Last week, the spotlight was on KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre when he resolved the crisis in the PLD bank in Belagavi. Mr Khandre, a second generation political leader from Bidar, is fast learning the ropes at the KPCC and behaves like a disciplined NCC cadet with his confident and baritone voice. Recently, he held a big rally in Bidar which was addressed by AICC president Rahul Gandhi and proved his organisational skills. The PLD Bank crisis has proved that he can be an effective troubleshooter for the party. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, he spoke about these issues and a lot more. Here are excerpts.
The coalition government has completed 100 days. This period saw Congress leaders and MLAs venting their displeasure against the government and asserting that they want Siddaramaiah to become CM again. What do you feel?
I will not say all are happy. Before the elections, we were confident that the Congress would come back to power, but it did not happen. But the high command took a decision to keep the BJP at bay. Congress MLAs have now started accepting the new arrangement and feel the government will complete its term. So there is no confusion.
The appointment of the Karnataka representative in Delhi was a case in point. Three days before the appointment, the co-ordination committee met where this issue was not discussed. It clearly shows the JD (S) does whatever it wants to do…
In the past, the coordination committee met, discussed several issues and gave directions to the government on policy matters. Whenever we have issues, the co-ordination committee will discuss them.
You say everything is falling in place and MLAs are content. But take the case of the Belagavi PLD Bank election. It should have been a non- issue but it proved otherwise and the high command had to send you to resolve the crisis. It clearly shows all is not well within the Congress.
When we have strong leaders in the districts, it is bound to happen. There was a communication gap between the two leaders in Belagavi, and there was a need for the central leadership to step in. I talked to all and we worked out a formula. Now all are happy. Sometimes such things happen.
But on Saturday, Ramesh Jarkiholi said he will not rest till he makes his brother Satish Jarkiholi the CM. Have the problems really been resolved.
What he said was: ‘I will not rest till my brother becomes the CM after ten years.’ For someone engaged in public service, it is natural to have such ambitions. They want to occupy the big seats and serve society better. There’s nothing wrong in it.
But his statement came a day after your mediation. Doesn’t it clearly show he is disappointed?
Ramesh Jarkiholi is an open hearted leader. He speaks his heart out. What he means is his brother has the ability to become CM.
But voters of the ST community may feel their leader was humiliated. They may even decide not to support the Congress in the next election...
The Congress party is like a sea. Our principles are all inclusive. Dharam Singh could become CM. It can happen only in the Congress.
In the recent ULB polls, you campaigned vigorously. How do you analyse the poll outcome?
Compared to 2013, I think we got more votes and seats. At the grassroots, we have a strong base and more enthusiastic workers. We have workers belonging to all communities.
You might have got more votes but the BJP won more seats.
In some pockets like in coastal Karnataka, some of our leaders are very popular who won by huge margins while BJP leaders won by narrow margins. I think we need to analyse this far deeper.
At the grassroot level, if you continue to cede ground to the JD (S), frustrated workers may join your rival party.
What you said is right. That’s why we discussed this issue and decided workers should be empowered. Therefore, after ULB polls, we left it to local leaders to decide on alliances. Now, the board and corporation revamp is due and we will accommodate genuine party workers in these bodies. Once it is done, I think the bonding will get deeper and we can give good governance.
But the reality is that the farm loan waiver itself needs a huge allocation. Middle level officers have started saying that the government is not moving because of lack of funds.
Their perception is wrong. This can happen only when we violate the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Karnataka government has good sources of revenue, we have stuck to the fiscal responsibility parametres even while taking loans. So, I don’t think other projects will suffer.
Finally, is there any misunderstanding between you and KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao? For example, you announced your tour programme to Kodagu and by the evening, you had to cancel and reschedule it so that you could go there with the KPCC president.
We are close friends and we are like brothers. We have no confusion, or differences. Our aim is to strengthen the party at the grassroots and win more seats in the next Parliament polls.