Bengaluru: While most candidates hit the road in their constituencies after filing their nomination papers to curry favour with the voters, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda doesn't seem in a hurry to do so. Even five days after filing his nomination papers in Tumakuru, where he is contesting the LS polls from for the first time, Mr Gowda is going about his usual routine with no sense of urgency to get down to campaigning.
When Deccan Chronicle caught up with him at his home in Padmanabhanagar in the city Friday morning, he had just finished speaking to visitors and party workers. After a bath and reciting the ‘Devara Nama’ (God's names) for over half an hour, he enjoyed his favourite brunch of ragi ball, beans curry and some curd rice before speaking to this newspaper.
Clad in his trademark white dhoti and khadi shirt, Mr Gowda spoke for over an hour, and among other things declared that he had no hesitation in backing Congress president, Rahul Gandhi for Prime Minister. There would, however, be more aspirants from the alliance partners, he observed. “There is Mamata and Mayawati. Mr Sharad Pawar has been waiting for long and Mr Chandrababu Naidu is a promising leader.
The non-NDA alliance will take shape after the elections and once it comes together, the leadership issue will be sorted out in three or four days,'' he said, exuding optimism.
Q: What do you think is the main agenda for this Lok Sabha election? The media and social media are talking only about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A: The media and social media campaign is only one aspect. The common people are no fools. They see everything. Five years ago, for the first time in the history of the country, a communal government came to power. It had partners like Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and even TDP. Look at its performance. On the economic front, the debt of the country has gone up by 50 per cent to touch Rs 88 to 90 lakh crore. They have cut funds for MGNREGA and not released MPLAD funds. As for harmony among people in the country, in a bid to usher in a Hindu nation, they started a disastrous programme called Ghar Wapsi in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, UP and Gujarat, and the Gorakshak organisation started killing people without reason, forcing the Prime Minister to plead to kill him instead. Kashmir saw three kinds of governments and later President's rule. People have their own local issues too. This government will go after the elections.
Q: But the agenda seems to be only whether Mr Modi should continue or not...
A: He is very good at taking credit for everything and marketing himself
although scientists had made breakthroughs when Mrs Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and when Mr Vajapayee was Prime Minister, the Pokhran test was conducted. Mr Modi spoke of removing corruption from the country. But only he can tell us how successful he has been on this front. In reality, the government has done great damage to the country. There has been interference in the judiciary and the autonomy of the CBI has been infringed upon. The government is trying to intimidate the opposition through IT raids and by using the Enforcement Directorate.
Q: When a Mahaghatbhandan is in the offing, could isolating the Congress during the local seat sharing in places like Uttar Pradesh, prove a setback?
A: I do agree with that to some extent. The Congress has its own vote share in Uttar Pradesh. But for local reasons, they did not include it in the seat sharing. Even in places like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, they are going it alone. I think they are coming to an understanding in Delhi. Every regional party has its own compulsions. But once the election results are declared, the non-NDA parties will come together. Since we are coalition partners with the Congress here, we don't have a problem in backing Mr Rahul Gandhi for Prime Minister. But there will be other aspirants. However, a week after the results are out, these issues will be sorted out.
Q: You seem to be having issues with your coalition partner, the Congress, even in Karnataka
A: This has a historical reason. After the Congress-JD(S) coalition government headed by Mr Dharam Singh fell in 2006, Mr Kumaraswamy formed the government with the BJP. Since then, till 2018, we shared a strained relationship (with the Congess). But in 2018, to keep the communal forces at bay, we had to come together. This was after a gap of 12 years and so the workers from both parties are finding it difficult to share a common platform. Also in the sharing of seats in Karnataka, we were given eight and later gave up two. I am not breaking my head over the fact that we got only six and they got more. It is our duty to iron out differences among our party workers. In Tumakuru, I am fighting elections under the leadership of (deputy CM), Dr G Parameshwar. We had not asked for Tumakuru at all.
However, Mr Siddaramaiah wanted to retain his home district and we got it. Tomorrow, we will attend a rally under the leadership of Mr Rahul Gandhi to send a message to our workers that we are working together.
Q: What about the IT raids?
A: They have resulted in a loss of face for the BJP. They thought we would park our money with contractors for the election expenses. But what did they get? Some papers, Rs 50,000 in one place and Rs 1 lakh in another. We are fighting on our own in Mandya and Hassan. In one place, the BJP has fielded a candidate and in another, it is supporting an independent. We know which forces are behind this, but I don't want to say more.
Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses et all. Happy reading....