Bengaluru: In the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly polls on 12 May, former chief minister and state president of Janata Dal (Secular) HD Kumaraswamy asserts he will not play the kingmaker in case of a hung verdict, but will emerge as the king himself. Unfazed by scathing attacks against the JD(S) from both Congress and the BJP, the 58-year-old leader says there will not be a post-poll tie-up with any of the two national political parties. The chief ministerial candidate believes his party is poised to cross the 113-mark in the 224-member Assembly.
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Kumaraswamy explains why he thinks the party will sweep over the entire state on its own. Edited excerpts follow:
You have expressed confidence in forming a government with complete majority. But what do you have to say about the pre-poll surveys that have predicted a hung Assembly scenario?
Many of these surveys were done randomly. How many people did they speak with in order to arrive at conclusions? Their reports never mentioned the strengths and weaknesses of political parties in each constituency. I can give names of areas where JD(S) candidates are set to win. While media houses kept themselves busy in providing specifics about Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's itinerary during his recent Karnataka visit, they ignored campaigns by our candidates. I have been addressing nearly six meetings a day, but there is no mention about it in either regional or national media.
What do you think about the BJP's promise to waive farmer loans worth up to Rs one lakh?
BJP leaders, especially its chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, seem to have woken up now and are busy projecting themselves as the farmer's friend. When farmers had asked Yeddyurappa for a loan waiver during his tenure as the deputy chief minister in 2006-07, he reacted by saying, "BJP did not have a currency note-printing machine." Also, not a single farmer loan was waived during his tenure as chief minister between 2007 and 2011.
JD(S)'s 60-page manifesto also promises to waive all farm loans in a one-time action, apart from various other welfare schemes. Will the party be successful when the incumbent Congress government has succeeded in waiving only loans availed from cooperative banks and societies?
Before releasing our party manifesto, we had discussed at length the possibilities of implementing various schemes, their sustainability and effectiveness. We have promised to waive agricultural loans amounting to Rs 52,000 crore (including interest payments) availed not only from cooperative banks and societies, but also from nationalised banks. We want to utilise the money collected as taxes to implement welfare schemes for the poor.
Addressing a farmers rally in a central Karnataka city, Prime Minster Narendra Modi had earlier said that Siddaramaiah-led government was a "10 percent sarkar". What do you have to say about the corruption charges against the Congress government?
Ironically, it is the BJP government that had introduced the percentage system in the Indian democracy. BJP leaders have guided Siddaramaiah to continue with the percentage system in Karnataka. Unfortunately, Modi seems to be unaware of this. Contractors today have to bribe government officials in order to float tenders and get money released.
Congress leaders had recently described the JD(S) as a "B team of the BJP". Will you support the saffron party in case of a hung verdict?
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had asked my father and JD(S) supremo, HD Deve Gowda, to clarify on this issue. But tell me, why would the JD(S) seek to form an alliance with any party when it is set to get a majority on its own and form the next government? There is no possibility of the JD(S) joining hands with Congress or the BJP.
What will the JD(S) do if either the Congress or BJP leadership approaches it to help fulfil promises made in the party manifesto?
I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I am not here for the chief minister's position. It is the welfare of people that matters most to me.
What do you have to say about the corruption charges made against the Siddaramaiah government?
The need of the hour is to cleanse the third floor of the Vidhana Soudha where Siddaramaiah's office is situated. There is rampant corruption in the state. I will transfer corrupt officers posted at the Assembly building if the JD(S) comes to power. Unless such officials are transferred or punished, people will continue to suffer. The BJP government had borrowed Rs 85,000 crore in the name of developmental works and Congress had borrowed Rs two lakh crore for taking up developmental works in five years. Siddaramaiah has ridiculed me by saying that I will not become the state chief minister. But I want to tell people that he will not remain even an MLA after the election results are out.
The author is a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
Updated Date: May 09, 2018 13:20 PM