We're with JD(S) but will decide on June 10 on RS poll: Cheluvarayaswamy

I feel, there are more problems within the family than in the party, says Cheluvarayaswamy, JD(S) Leader.

Ever since he led the coup to dethrone the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government and pave way for a Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition, resulting in Mr H.D. Kumaraswamy becoming chief minister in 2006, Mr Cheluvarayaswamy has always been in the eye of the storm. This time however, the situation has radically changed with Mr Kumaraswamy, now JD(S) state president, who was once his best friend, spitting venom against the group of ‘rebel’ legislators including him.

The Mandya strongman has been enduring it all silently, trying to stay away from the media rather than hit out against the Deve Gowda family. He knows more than anyone else that the Gowdas have fallen back on him whenever they needed him most and then forgotten it all.

In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Mr Cheluvarayaswamy said he started his political career with the Janata Parivar and would like to end it with the JD(S). However, ‘a situation' has been created to deny him the ‘privilege', the former minister candidly admitted while taking pains to ensure he did not rub Mr Deve Gowda or his family members the wrong way. Excerpts from the interview:

A lot is happening between you and your party leaders. What is your stand?
There is nothing like a stand. At this moment, we are with Janata Dal (Secular) and we will be here. If you are asking about voting for the JD(S) candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections, we have decided to take a call on June 10. As on now, we are planning to vote for the JD(S) candidate. But efforts are being made by the party to force a decision on us.

What decision? Against the party or for the party?
Their behaviour makes us think they do not want us to vote for the party candidate (B.M. Farookh) . But we have not come to that decision.

You and your friends are unhappy with party leaders…
See.... it all started with the allotment of the ticket for the South Graduates’ constituency poll to the Legislative Council. When it matters, they call me the district leader. They also give the MP election B-form to me.

There was disparity while giving tickets in the local body elections, but I tolerated it. However, when it came to this election, they wanted to field a candidate, who worked against the party for the last 10 years and also tried to defeat me in my constituency. Enough is enough, I cannot tolerate Mr Srikante Gowda being fielded from South Graduates constituency.

Even they knew that I will not work for Srikante Gowda. I have spoken about it with Mr Deve Gowda and Mr Kumaraswamy. I am working against the party’s official candidate. It would have been improper, if I had lied that I would work for the party candidate and later ensured his defeat. After this, at a meeting, they raked up unnecessary issues and spoke against me.

They gave indications that they wanted us to stay away from them. Still, I have not indulged in any anti-party activity. But, I have decided that if our leaders make decisions without taking us into confidence, we will oppose such decisions. We have not thought of leaving the party.

So, it will be issue based?
Yes...It will be issue based. Many of us including Mr Zameer Ahmed Khan, Mr H.C. Balakrishna and others have worked for the party for over two decades. The opposition will be issue based and not against the party. As long as we are with Janata Dal (Secular), we want the party to grow. The leaders may also say that the party is theirs and no one else can have a say in it. However, it will be decided by the people.

What is the situation in the party? Are second line leaders being forced to quit if they grow strong in their home turf, so that the leadership is not challenged? A lot of leaders including Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr M.P. Prakash had to quit the party...

I do not want to interpret things this way. Mr Deve Gowda shaped his and his party's political path during the last 30-40 years. I will confine myself to South Graduate constituency where I will be working for a suitable candidate, against the party’s official candidate. The Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections are taking different turns. The behavior of our leaders and their statements have made us ponder over it. We will decide on June 10.

Is there a communication gap in the party, did Mr Gowda and Mr Kumaraswamy speak to you on the issue?
Mr Gowda has not discussed anything with us, nor has he made any call. Mr Kumaraswamy finalized the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council candidates without informing us. Later, he spoke to us. We have clarified our stand to him. It is not proper to disclose the details.

You and Mr Kumaraswamy have been involved in personal attacks. You also said that the Gowda family is upset after you constructed a house. Why have things descended to this level?
You should pose this question to Mr Kumaraswamy. I have never spoken lightly against Mr Kumaraswamy or their family members. This is not the first time he has spoken against me and others. He is the son of a former Prime Minister. I don't know who is advising him and encouraging him to talk like this. You should be asking him why such a situation has cropped up.

The Assembly elections are just two years away. Do you think things will settle down in the party or you will have to look for a way out?
I stood with the party when it split several times. I have a desire to stay back in the same party and complete my political career. There were many instances when I was invited to other parties. Mr Yeddyurappa offered me the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, even former Janata Parivar leader late M.P. Prakash offered to make me Deputy Chief Minister. Earlier, Mr S.M. Krishna wanted me to join the Congress party but I declined. The present developments indicates that it is a critical situation, I don't deny it. Though we want to stay back, we do not feel our leaders want to retain us in the party. I am not looking for a situation to leave the party. If our leaders start taking everyone into confidence and start building the party, things may fall in place.

There are rumours that all is not well among family members of the Deve Gowda family? Mr Kumaraswamy and Mr Revanna seem to have conflicting interests?
I feel, there are more problems within the family than in the party. But it is their personal matter, they have to settle it so that it does not harm the party. It is their family matter.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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