Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, whose partyJanata Dal Secular is the key regional player in the May 12 state assembly polls, said both BJP and Congress were out to destroy his party and he was the sole practitioner of secular politics. Excerpts from his interview with Sowmya Aji
What do you see as your role in the assembly polls?
My struggle is to get a government of mine own. Congress is weakening. As you can see, chief minister Siddaramaiah has rushed to Badami to contest there; he knows he will be defeated in Chamundeshwari. BJP is also weakening. Union minister Ananth Kumar operated so that (party CM candidate) B S Yeddyurappa’s son Vijayendra does not get the BJP ticket from Varuna. Group politics is weakening them. I am very careful and watching.
Who is your bigger enemy—Congress or BJP?
Both are. Both want to destroy me. Why did Congress take Siddaramaiah from me? Why did they take MP Prakash? My son (Kumaraswamy) went to BJP because Congress took all these people away and weakened me. My image has been tarnished by my son because of this. The worst sufferer is Deve Gowda and his secular party. How does Congress have the courage to call itself secular? Why was (former prime minister) Chandra Shekhar was removed? Why was Charan Singh not allowed to sit on the gaddi of PM? What is this Congress? I removed the BJP government in Gujarat when I was the PM in 1996. Can they talk before me? They went to (DMK leader M) Karunanidhi’s doors, after he spent six years with (former prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee. He was the CM when (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. Is this not opportunistic politics?
Do you think there is a rise in communal politics?
Certainly. The way in which in the last four years (Narendra) Modi as PM has allowed RSS to play its own game… Vajpayee did not go too far or allow RSS to play this role. That is why Modi’s graph is coming down.
What role will money play in the Karnataka elections?
In Karnataka, BJP and Congress may spend on each candidate Rs 5 to Rs 10 crore. I may not be able to give even Rs 1 crore each. The Rs 28 lakh limit…is not practical. What is the cost of elections today? 30 vehicles, maintaining them, feeding the boys who are going around, we can’t manage.
Siddaramaiah may give tonnes of money, Modi may give tonnes of money. But, sitting here, people come and give me 5 lakh, 10 lakh, two lakhs, three lakhs. I am not ashamed to take it. I don’t ask who it is. I take their help and fight elections. The voter will not give his mind now. I have fought 15 elections. They always are decided in the last two-three days.
I am going to campaign in 40-50 constituencies in Old Mysuru region. My son has asked me to work there. We have a sitting MLA in G T Deve Gowda (in Chamundeshwari). He (Siddaramaiah) has left Varuna and come to contest here. I am not going to Mysuru just to campaign in Chamundeshwari, I will campaign in all constituencies there.