He belongs to the rare bunch of politicians who do not mind calling a spade a spade. After being ignored by Congress leaders, he joined the party which he had criticised for many years-the JD(S). Former MP and Hunsur JD(S) MLA, Mr A.H. Vishwanath spoke to Deccan Chronicle on the current political situation in Karnataka. Here are excerpts.
The Opposition BJP alleges that the JD(S)-Congress coalition government is yet to take off. What's your view?
I would have agreed if this question was raised a month ago. Now, I don't think they are right as development is taking place. Now there is a council of ministers who are attending to their department work.
Has the Congress stopped impeding the functioning of the coalition government?
Yes. Now, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has been given a free hand to run the government. After receiving instructions from Congress President Rahul Gandhi, state leaders and legislators have stopped criticizing the government in public. The Congress had been made to understand the coalition dharma and follow it in the interest of both parties.
Has the JD(S) able to put the controversy over farm loan waiver behind it?
Indeed it was a mess created by the BJP, officials and a section of Congress leaders. The CM on the floor of the House has already announced waiver of crop loans borrowed by farmers including current loans. This has given a benefit of Rs 1 lakh to each farmer. Overall, it has benefited around 22 lakh farmers. Officials should be blamed for creating a lot of confusion among farmers. There should be no doubt about this as Mr Kumaraswamy has clearly announced a total waiver of crop loans in the next five years. The need of the hour is to cut down wasteful expenditure including the perks of officials and elected representatives. If state finances are bad, the previous Congress government is equally responsible for it. The incumbent government would not have faced problems had the previous government managed the finances properly. I don't know why the Congress blames Mr Kumaraswamy for the current financial situation.
Former CM and chairman of the coordination committee of the coalition government, Mr Siddaramaiah has been writing letters to the CM on various issues? Is it a good move?
(Laughs) The lesser said, the better. Being a former CM and chairman of the coordination panel, it is unbecoming on the part of Mr Siddaramaiah to write letters to his predecessor. In fact, Mr Siddaramaiah has no role to play in the daily administration of the coalition government. It's better for him to stop writing letters on trivial issues and give friendly advice when he meets the Chief Minister in person.
Many thought Mr Siddaramaiah would be sidelined after the Congress lost the assembly polls. But now he has been given three important party posts. What does it indicate?
Mr Siddaramaiah has been given three important party posts including membership of the Congress Working Committee but still he expects the state government to give him a free car, free accommodation, staff and status of a Cabinet minister. He should know that he is no longer CM and does not enjoy facilities as per protocol. Now Mr Siddaramaiah is just a legislator like the other 223 MLAs.
The Congress and JD(S) are planning to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls jointly. Will it prevent the BJP from continuing in power at the Centre?
Firstly, the leaders of both parties should have a clean approach if they want to go it together in the coming parliamentary polls. They need to be transparent, if they lack faith in themselves, the pact will not work. Since talks are still in the primary stage, we need to wait and see how it takes shape in the coming days.
Your name is making the rounds for the post of state JD(S) president..are you ready to take over the mantle?
Recently, party supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda asked me whether I am ready to become state president of the party and I said yes as Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is unable to concentrate on strengthening the party due to his pre-occupation with government work. I am ready to use my 40 years of political experience to build the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Mr Gowda is expected to take a call on this issue soon.