Working President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Eshwar Khandre spoke on a range of issues from the impact of the coming bypolls to the flood situation in Karnataka, in an interview. Here are excerpts.
Has the decision of the Election Commission (EC) on the by-polls disappointed you?
Yes, very much. It’s clear that there is a collusion between the Central government and the EC. Unfortunately the EC is acting partially and taking instructions from the ruling BJP. There was no need for the EC to go to the Supreme Court and say that the disqualified MLAs have the right to contest. The Speaker has given the judgement and the SC was seized of the matter. Now without consulting anybody, they have unilaterally postponed the by-elections to December 5. This is totally uncalled for and shows that they are under tremendous pressure from the BJP.
The byelections are round the corner. Has the Congress finalised its candidates?
Yes, we have almost finalised. The committees formed by us have submitted their reports. The party will go by the winnability factor and party loyalty while finalizing candidates. Except for three-four constituencies, in the rest we have almost finalised (candidates). Is there a possibility of an alliance again between the Congress and JDs in the by-polls? Recently senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had stated that notwithstanding the animosity, there should be an alliance between the two parties. First and foremost, secular parties should win. And the JD(S) leaders have ruled out the possibility of a tie-up.
The Congress is very strong in almost all constituencies.
However the decision regarding the alliance will be taken by the High command. My personal view is that the Congress is powerful enough to win the majority of seats. This was demonstrated in the local bodies’s election held after the Lok Sabha elections.
What makes you so confident? Most of the leaders who have resigned from the Congress have strong roots in their respective constituencies.
I cannot agree that the leaders have strong roots. They got elected because they were followers of the Congress ideology. The leaders who have defected have no standing of their own in their constituencies. They have left the party for their own selfish ends and are under the false illusion that the future is bleak for the Congress as it fared badly in the LS polls. They are now repenting their decision. It’s a big lesson on what will be the fate of leaders who forget the larger interest of the party for their benefit.
The coming by-elections are very crucial for the BJP; they need to win atleast nine seats of the total 15. Do you foresee another round of Operation Kamala by the BJP to further cement their position?
They may attempt it.. but I don’t think anybody will succumb to their machinations because the fate of the defectors is a lesson to those who think of it.
Many party leaders including yourself exude confidence that the Congress will win the majority of seats. Will this lead to the formation of another coalition government? What are the strategies of the Congress?
There is a lot of speculation. I can’t at this juncture spell out the permutations and combinations. Let us wait till the by-elections results are out. Appropriate decisions will be taken in consultation with the MLAs concerned under the guidance of the high command.
It’s time for introspection on the benefits the Congress has derived from the alliance with the JD(S) because again there is a possibility of an alliance after the byelection...
It’s true that the Congress did not get any benfit from the alliance; it’s a fact. The alliance should have fared better. But it did not work as per our
By forging this alliance, the Congress has come in for criticism from the BJP which says the grand old party had forsaken the interest of North Karnataka for the benefit of a single family which focused on only three-four districts of Old Mysore region.
There is no truth in the allegation. There may be some dissatisfaction with regard to some development works, such things are bound to happen in alliances. There should have been more trust between the alliance partners.
There are reports that Siddaramaiah was responsible for the collapse..
It’s totally false. Mr Siddaramaiah is a straight forward leader, he abided by the decision of the high command. More meetings of the coordination committee should have happened and more people involved in the decision making process. There was no bonding between grassroot level workers of both parties.
The infighting in the party has come to the fore. Some prominent leaders are voicing their opposition to the dominance of Siddaramaiah.
There is no infighting as such.. small issues are there and I’m sure top leaders will sort them out. The discussions in the Congress legislature party meeting were blown out of proportion.
It’s has been acknowledged by your party leaders that your legislators worked against the official candidates in the Lok Sabha election. Is the party in a position to take action against such leaders?
Such things take place in all parties and our party is no exception. There are allegations against some leaders. The party disciplinary committee will take appropriate action.
A fight has broken out for the post of Leader of the Opposition between Siddaramaiah and Dr G Parameshwar...
There is no fight as such...The high command will take a decision.
The Centre has disappointed Karnataka by turning its back on the woes of the flood-affected people.
The Modi-Shah government has no concern for people who are suffering. This was an unprecedented disaster in Karnataka.. more than two crore are people affected and 10 lakh displaced. But I’m surprised at the inhuman attitude of the Centre. The Home Minister and Finance Minister did an aerial survey and nearly 60 days have passed. But not a single paise has been released. They did not even give an appointment to Mr Yediyurappa.. it’s an insult to the people of Karnataka.
When the Congress led UPA was in office, then PM Dr Manmohan Singh had immediately announced Rs 1,600 crore. Will they announce relief after people die? The Kalyana Karnataka Development Board is in a state of limbo..it has no chairman and there is poor representation for the region in the Cabinet. All development activities have come to a standstill. This government is busy cancelling the projects sanctioned by the previous government and allocating them to their party MLAs. Mr Yediyurappa should consider himself the CM of Karnataka, not merely of the BJP.