H.D. Kumaraswamy’s face-to-face with Public TV Ranganath: “BJP-JD(S) alliance not just for parties’ survival, it is for the good of the State”
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H.D. Kumaraswamy’s face-to-face with Public TV Ranganath: “BJP-JD(S) alliance not just for parties’ survival, it is for the good of the State”

October 3, 2023

Days after his party formally announced a tie-up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls-2024, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Legislature Party leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has asserted that the alliance between the two parties would continue even beyond the LS elections for the greater good of the State. In a free-wheeling chat with Senior Journalist H.R. Ranganath of Public TV, Kumaraswamy has opened up on the alliance.  Excerpts. — Ed

By S.B. Devaraj

I had not expected this change

In my (H.D. Kumaraswamy) personal life my standard dress of pants has been replaced by dhoti (panche). Surprisingly, even in the State politics some important changes have begun to take place. For sure, no political pundit had imagined this to happen. In the 60 years of political life of our (JD-S) National President H.D. Deve Gowda he also had not seen this kind of change in the State politics.

The change began with a call from Union Home Minister and top BJP leader Amit Shah. Following the call, I met Shah and had one-to-one talks. But then I was a little bit concerned about H.D. Deve Gowda’s stand as I felt that he would not agree for the BJP-JD(S) alliance as the former PM had not associated himself with the BJP throughout his six decades of political career. However, I felt relieved when Deve Gowda announced in public that he had himself given nod for the alliance.

Taking note of the Karnataka politics in the past decade, Deve Gowda has taken this stand considering the interests of the State and based on his personal experience. Probably things would have been better for the JD(S) had such a stand been taken much earlier.

Alliance with Congress was unnatural 

Congress would not have been in power now had the BJP-JD(S) alliance of 2006 continued to this day. The Congress, which termed the JD(S) as the B team of BJP, knocked on the doors of Deve Gowda soon after the 2018 Assembly poll results were out. The JD(S)-Congress alliance that happened then was nothing but unnatural. Tears rolled out of my eyes within a month after I became the CM then. It was a suicidal decision on the part of the JD(S) to have aligned with the Congress, which treated me shabbily.

Congress leader Siddharamaiah did not want the Government to survive for long and as a result the Government fell in just 14 months. D.K. Shivakumar too just pretended to save the Government from collapsing.

The Congress left us in the lurch when the coalition Government fell. JD(S) vote share too dropped from 19 percent to 13 percent.

State’s interests is more important

We erred in entering into an alliance with the Congress in 2018, which we are now rectifying. Considering the changed political equation now, it is imperative on the part of the JD(S) to join hands with the BJP.

More than the interests of the two parties, it is the interests of the State that matters here. It is necessary to have power for solving the problems that the State is facing and this is very important. The JD(S) – BJP coalition is not limited just to Lok Sabha polls but it will continue beyond that. Also, 90 percent of the State BJP leaders are my friends. There will be no meaning for the alliance if leaders of both the parties do not trust each other.

Modi is a big factor

Many parties have cobbled together a political block (I.N.D.I.A) under the leadership of the Congress. But people do not trust it. Like others, I too will not agree that Rahul Gandhi can match Narendra Modi in leadership qualities.

Deve Gowda had said in 2014 that he would leave the country if Modi became the PM. Deve Gowda even came forward to quit his Lok Sabha seat following the 2014 LS polls when the BJP-led NDA came to power. But Modi invited Deve Gowda for talks during which the PM convinced him against resigning. This is proof of Modi’s  greatness as a national leader.

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State Government will fall under its own weight

We will not make attempts to bring down this Congress Government in Karnataka. Watching the latest developments, I am of the opinion that the Government will fall under its own weight. We have not fixed any ‘muhurtha’ for pulling down this Government. Minister K.N. Rajanna has himself said there is an apprehension that the State Government may collapse after the LS polls. At the same time, Rajanna has been profusely batting for having three Deputy Chief Ministers in the State Government.

Going by these developments, I strongly feel that this Government may not complete its full term. Nobody had guessed that the Uddhav Thackeray Government in neighbouring Maharashtra would fall overnight. But that did happen and now the BJP has formed the Government there. In our own State, nobody had thought that 17 Legislators would quit at once when the JD(S)-Congress coalition Government was in power in 2018. Going by these trends, anything can happen in politics any time.

Not much churning will happen in JD(S)

I assure you that there will be not much churning in the JD(S) after the party’s decision to join hands with the BJP. In any case, we will make attempts to ensure that leaders do not leave the party. But the JD(S) leadership cannot do much if a few leaders are adamant on leaving the party. Party Supremo H.D. Deve Gowda has asserted that its cordial relationship with all communities would continue. The JD(S) is a party that stands for the cause of over 6 crore population of Karnataka State.

JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy (centre) with BJP National President J.P. Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Goa CM Pramod Sawant and Nikhil Kumaraswamy.

What does Secularism mean for Congress?

The Congress has asked the JD (Secular) to remove the word Secular from the party name. I urge the Congress leaders to define and interpret the meaning of the word Secularism. The Congress claims to be Secular but the party considers the caste factor in the appointment of officials. I would like to ask what sort of Secularism is this? The Congress claims that Minorities are not safe in the country under BJP rule. But does that mean that there is no protection for smaller communities?

Those calling me an opportunist should introspect

If the Congress calls Hindus as Communal, then what will it have to say about Minorities. Why the party calls them as Secular? I and my father Deve Gowda have deep regrets over joining hands with the Congress. Deve Gowda has made amends for the mistake by aligning with the BJP now. The Congress High Command misled us when the JD(S) formed coalition Government with that party. The Congress High Command, if it wanted, could have prevented the Congress-JD(S) coalition Government from collapsing.

Anyone who calls me an opportunist should do some introspection. I want to know why Congress leaders knocked on my doors after the 2018 Assembly poll results were out. This also is a classic example of opportunism. Both Siddharamaiah and D.K. Shivakumar did not like to see me sitting in the saddle as the CM, which is why they brought down the coalition Government. The JD(S) faced one of its worst defeats in the 2019 LS polls as the party aligned with the Congress.

Do not make people beg

Though there are no objections to the Guarantee Schemes of the Congress, I would like to make an appeal to the Government to ensure that people are not pushed towards begging. The Congress Government should know that because of its five free guarantees, no developmental projects are happening in the State.

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The Congress, which undertook Mekedatu padayatra while in the Opposition, is now silent on the issue. Also, what is the Government doing regarding Upper Krishna project and the stand of the Government regarding sharing of Krishna waters?

BJP-JD(S) coalition will be a formidable one

With the LS polls just a few months away, the BJP-JD(S) coalition will surely pose a formidable challenge to the ruling Congress in Karnataka. The Congress is hell bent on finishing off the JD(S). But that will never happen and H.D. Deve Gowda has decided to have ties with the BJP to take on the Congress. Initially there may be some confusion in both the parties regarding Assembly and Local bodies polls. However, all these confusions can be put to an end with the leaders of both the parties having a perfect co-ordination in due course. There are demands for having a Uniform Civil Code in the country. The JD(S) will support the NDA on whatever decision it takes within the ambit of the law of the land.

We should have paid heed to PM Modi’s words

I was a fool to have declined Prime Minister Modi’s invitation long back for becoming the CM. Even Union Home Minister Amit Shah tried to contact me following the announcement of 2018 Assembly poll result, which Shah reminded me when I met him recently. I would have been the Chief Minister for five years had I paid heed to the words of Modi and Shah.

Even the alliance between the two parties would have continued. The political scenario in Karnataka would have undergone a complete change had the JD(S) joined hands with the BJP after the 2018 polls.

I and my son will not contest LS polls – 2024

I and my son will not contest the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. I have asked my son Nikhil Kumaraswamy to work for organising the party ahead of the LS polls. I had spoken to my State Party Chief C.M. Ibrahim before the announcement on tie-up with the BJP. Also, two meetings in this regard were held in his presence as the party wanted to take a unanimous decision on the alliance.

I am no hit-and-run politician

The Congress has accused me of being a hit-and-run politician when I created a storm by raising the pen-drive issue. I want to ask Congress leaders what evidence they had when they accused the previous BJP Government of 40 percent commission. I would like to remind Congressmen that I had raised corruption charges substantiating them with documents. Generally, there would be no supportive documents when commission or corruption charges are made.

I will keep track of my health

I am following the advice of doctors regarding my health. I have regrets for ignoring my health. I am following my father H.D. Deve Gowda when it comes to health. I would not have faced such a serious health issue had I kept a constant track of my health which I am doing now.

My appeal to both parties

Some of my friends in the BJP are of the opinion that I should be made the Opposition leader now that JD(S) has formally announced alliance with the BJP. But there are many able and capable leaders in the BJP. During my meeting with Amit Shah, I told the Union Minister not to keep the Opposition leader’s post vacant for too long. When both the BJP and JD(S) in Karnataka are facing testing times, it is imperative for leaders of both the parties to work with a perfect co-ordination and co-operation.

I request the leaders and workers of both BJP and JD(S) to have mutual trust which is vital for solving many internal party problems and also problems plaguing the State of Karnataka for long.


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