He has always been blunt and to the point and so it did not surprise many when state Janata Dal(Secular) president, A H Vishwanath, recently took on former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for his "power hungry politics and arrogance," undeterred by the "coalition dharma." But in an interview with Shyam Sundar Vattam, he ruled out any imminent threat to the Congress-JDS coalition government as well as a mid-term assembly poll as no MLA, in his view, was ready to spend Rs 20 crore each to fight another election. Excerpts:
What's happening in the coalition government? Why are leaders of both parties openly quarrelling?
Yes, I agree there has been confusion between the two parties over the last two or three months over certain issues. It all started with a few Congress MLAs and ministers launching a "Siddu for CM" campaign despite being part of a coalition government headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. This is being done deliberately to embarrass the CM. So, this naturally hurt me and I was forced to give a strongly worded statement against Mr Siddaramaiah and his supporters as head of a state party unit.
Some believe the Congress is planning to pull the plug on the government on May 23 and go for snap polls in Karnataka.
It has not yet been a year since the last assembly poll, which saw no party get an absolute majority to form the government. No MLA, be it from the Congress, BJP or JD(S) is ready for another election, especially this soon. Let any MLA say he is ready to spend Rs 20 crore. It looks like the Congress party is blackmailing the JD(S) by threatening to withdraw support and go for snap polls.
Do you believe that Mr Siddaramaiah is really aspiring to become Chief Minister again?
Yes. What's going on in the Congress party clearly indicates Mr Siddaramaiah's eagerness to become CM again. If he did not want that he would have asked his supporters to shut up, saying that the CM's post was not vacant. Instead, he feels elated whenever an MLA or minister chants "Siddu for CM." It is unbecoming of him when the state has a democratically elected government, CM and ministers. Mr Siddaramaiah's loyalists are not ready to listen to KPCC president, Dinesh Gundu Rao or Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parameshwar. According to me, Mr Siddaramaiah can't become the CM under the current political dispensation.
The coalition government will be a year old this month. But have you drafted a common minimum programme yet?
The chairman of the coalition's coordination committee is Mr Siddaramaiah and it is his duty to draw up the CMP for smooth running of the government. Without doing this, he is aspiring to become CM again. My demand to include state presidents of the Congress and JD(S) on the committee has not been met as yet. Although the Congress has three members on the committee, Mr Siddaramaiah, Dr Parameshwar and AICC general secretary, K C Venugopal, Mr Kumaraswamy is the only representative of the JD(S) after Mr Danish Ali quit the party to join the BSP and contest from Uttar Pradesh. The coordination committee is incomplete without Mr Dinesh Gundu Rao and Mr Vishwanath. But Mr Siddaramaiah doesn't understand this. I will take up this matter with our party supremo, H D Deve Gowda.
With so many differences, will the coalition government complete its full five year tenure?
I am 100 per cent confident that this government will complete its term. The ups and downs are temporary. Everything will be set right by our national leaders. No one can replace Mr Kumaraswamy in the next four years.
Political pundits are predicting major changes in state politics after May 23.
Nothing is going to change after May 23. The coalition government will continue for the next four years under the leadership of Mr Kumaraswamy
If the Congress pulls the plug on the government, will the JD(S) seek BJP support to remain in power?
There is no chance of that happening. We are not going to be at the mercy of the communal party at any cost. Our state leaders have already ruled out taking the help of the BJP if the Congress withdraws support.