Nation Politics 13 Mar 2017 What outsider? Even ...

What outsider? Even Siddaramaiah is still an outsider in Congress: Jayaprakash Hegde

Published Mar 13, 2017, 6:35 am IST
Updated Mar 13, 2017, 7:10 am IST
Jayaprakash Hegde, Former MP
 Jayaprakash Hegde, Former MP

Jayaprakash Hegde, considered a decent and dignified leader among the present crop of politicians, joined the BJP last week. Starting his career with the Janata Party, he later became an Independent before being lured by the Congress party.

After he was expelled, the former Udupi MP has landed in the BJP. Mr Hegde, who does not want to speak ill about the Congress party, defended  his actions as a fighter against the RSS in the past but made it clear that he will be committed to the BJP and its  cause in future Here are excerpts of an interview.

Why did you choose the BJP?
After I was expelled from the Congress party, I went back to my constituency and spoke to workers and voters. Majority of them suggested that I should go to the BJP.  After holding talks with  BJP leaders, I decided to join the party.

You said you held talks with BJP leaders? Do you mind sharing the details...
No leader will join any party without any discussion with top leaders. Yes, I did hold a discussion during my meeting with B.S. Yeddyurappa and other leaders. The discussion was private in nature, so I can't disclose the details because, it would hurt the leaders who held the discussion.  So, it is not fair on my part to discuss that in public.

You worked in the Congress party. Looking at the party's plight now, how do you analyse the state of affairs?
I will not speak about that party. That’s my policy. I can say I felt pained when I was in the Congress. I do not want to generalise the reasons for my exit and criticise them because many from that party still sympathise with me.

But, many Congress leaders including party working president Dinesh Gundurao criticised you?
No. I went through their statement. Gundu Rao rightly said I was expelled from the party. Mr (D.K.) Shivakumar said I might have held discussions with the BJP leaders and joined them. It’s quite natural.  

Many leaders in the coast confide that when you were in Congress, you were active in getting cases filed against BJP and RSS workers. You even topped the list of leaders who disliked the BJP most.  Do you think you can fit into the party?
You have to understand me properly. Whichever party I worked for, I dedicated myself 100 per cent and worked sincerely. I was aggressive wherever illegal activities happened.  I will not stand by any illegality. My point is simple: people should not take law into their hands. I always encourage those who work within the framework of law.

Now that you are in BJP, do you feel guilty for what you did in the past?
I stand by what I did. Even today, I don’t feel I did anything wrong. I support those who work within the framework of law.

Do you think you can fit into the BJP which generally does not accept and respect outsiders who join the party?
If you see my political career, I always swam against the tide. When the Congress was at its peak in the early Eighties, we were the first ones to get elected on a Janata Party ticket. After Janata Dal got split in the late nineties, I contested as an independent and won twice.

At that time, I was fighting both the BJP and Congress. I joined the Congress but they did not field me from the seat for which I sought a ticket. People from Udupi-Chikmagaluru still remember me. Even after I lost. I continued working and won the confidence of people. Ultimately satisfaction is more important for me.  Wherever I am I will give 100 per cent.

Does that mean you have no ideology?
I do not understand what ideology is? If I quit the Congress and join the BJP I am communal. For argument’s sake, if I quit the BJP tomorrow and go back to Congress, then I will become secular again. (laughs) Is that it?

You have to understand that no change has happened in my fundamental thinking, be it sense of empathy or social justice. So that question does not arise. All along,my voters listened to me. After my expulsion from the Congress, I listened to their voice and joined the BJP. The majority voice prevailed, that’s it.  

Will you contest Parliament or Assembly polls?
(laughs) It is still a secret. All political parties do conduct surveys and they decide where one should contest. In the first place, I have not decided whether to contest or not.

You did not answer the question. Many who quit the BJP say it does not respect outsiders. Then, why did you choose the party?
You know very well what Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah said the other day in the party's co-ordination committee meeting. He appealed to Congress leaders to accept him as one of them.

What does it show? He is still considered as an outsider in the Congress party, isn't it? I do not agree with you. Many of my old colleagues, C.M. Udasi, Govind Karjol and B.N. Bachhe Gowda had joined the BJP long back and have come up the ranks. They got positions and the party respects them.

I can understand what an original worker feels when an outsider joins. He or she works for so long and suddenly an outsider comes and snatches the opportunities. I completely understand their predicament. But at the same time, they should also consider the contribution of an outsider to the party. They should factor in the contributions while forming opinions about outsiders.

Many say BJP won’t get even 135 plus seats let alone winning 150 because it is very weak in the Vokkaliga heartland. What’s your opinion?
You better wait and watch. The by-polls(in Nanjangud and Gundlupet)  will be an eye opener and it will be an indicator of what will happen in 2018. The party will make a strategy based on details from the grassroots.

No party has come to power by winning a majority of seats in every region. Parties may be weak in some areas, but they strategise to overcome the weakness. You have to take the performance of the party on a whole and then decide.

Location: India, Karnataka


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