Speaking to Ajit Hanamakkanavar of Asianet Suvarna News, former chief minister of Karnataka H D Kumaraswamy, has made a set of surprising comments with respect to his party's past, present and the future.
While answering the questions posed by the anchor and the audience, the former chief minister criticised the Congress and reflected on the political moves that proved costly to the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS).
Here are some of the highlights from H D Kumaraswamy's News Hour special interview:
Communalism, Secularism Are 'Bogus' Concepts Today
"I supported the Muslim community when the hijab controversy happened in the state. The Congress was doing a balancing act while making statements on the same. Despite this, the Muslim community voted for the Congress en masse. Communalism and secularism have become bogus concepts today.
The same CM (Siddaramaiah) was inclined towards joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the late 2000s. He met Advani as well. We never approached anyone. It is the Congress and the BJP who come to us for support. I am open about this. There's no hiding anything," he stated.
My Father Fell Prey To Secular Politics
Kumaraswamy stated that his father, H D Deve Gowda, fell prey to the secular politics of the Congress. He said that the JDS supremo adopted secular politics trusting the Congress.
"My father was supposed to be the Congress candidate in 1962. When he went to file his nomination, the b-form was handed over to a different candidate. He later stood as an independent candidate. My father's inability to serve the people in a bigger manner is a consequence of trusting the Congress", he stated.
"This is a big statement, Mr. Kumaraswamy", Ajit replied in response.
"In 1996-97, I went to R K Dhawan's house. He insisted that I convince my father to speak to Sitaram Kesari. My father was not interested because he wanted to work efficiently, and not depend on anyone to get work done. Vajpayee ji and Arun Jaitley made the same offer to us. Arun Jaitley wanted an alliance like the one they have with Naveen Patnaik in Odisha. They understood and valued our family's importance in the state", he added.
PM Modi Gave Me Time When I Was The CM
"Despite doing the good work, look how the Congress is treating you", Kumaraswamy recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling him when the coalition government was in power in Karnataka.
"When I was the chief minister, I met him a total of eight times. I don't think he has entertained his own party people and BJP CMs so much", he added with a smile on his face.
"Had I listened to PM Modi and joined hands with the BJP, there would be no chance of the Congress coming to power today. I refused fearing a 'black mark' on my political career. I may have even continued as the CM for the next 3-4 years", Kumaraswamy added.
"If I even have a base left in the state, it is only because of the BJP", he stated.
Congress Came Running To Us In 2018
The former CM said that Ghulam Nabi Azad told him that the internal survey of his party has projected the BJP to win 104-105 seats, and that a coalition between the INC and the JD(S) can be formed.
He said that it was the Congress leaders were the ones "who came running to him". He also stated that Siddaramaiah later met them in Ashok, a hotel in Bengaluru, later that evening.
"He was angry. He told his Congress seniors that he could have poached JD(S) MLAs", Kumaraswamy said referring to Siddaramaiah's outburst at his party colleagues for approaching the JD(S).
"They just use us when it is convenient to them", he added.
PM Modi Values My Father
"PM Modi knows how Deve Gowda performed as the prime minister during the ten months of his tenure. He has emotionally told me that he sees him as a father figure, specially because he does not have one", he told Ajit Hanamakkanavar.
Garibi Hatao Has Still Not Been Done
Criticising the Congress' freebies in the state, the former CM stated that the INC has had the same policies since the 1960s and 1970s. He said that the PM Indira Gandhi's garibi hatao was implemented almost fifty years ago.
"If the Congress is still trying to eliminate poverty, it shows how successful their pro-poor programs have been", he said, taking a jibe at the Congress.
'I.N.D.I.A' Did Not Invite Us
Referring to the recent opposition unity meeting hosted by the Indian National Congress (INC) in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy stated that his party was not invited to be a part of the meeting.
"Congress took 'unconditional support' from the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 2004. We too joined the hands with the Congress and wrote off farmers' loans. What did that achieve us? Nothing", he stated.
"DMK was a part of the coalition when H D Deve Gowda was the prime minister. After Jyoti Basu, V P Singh refused to be the PM, parties got together and made Deve Gowda the prime minister. The same coalition brought I K Gujral's government down. The same DMK got back with the Congress in 2004. What principles do they preach?", he questioned the Congress.
Transferring Bureaucrats Has Become A Business
"The process of transferring officers from one department to the other has become a business", Kumaraswamy said. He said that the Congress has a certain rate for allowing postings/transfers to key ministries and departments.
"When an officer has to pay a certain sum to secure a posting, how can he/she work transparently, bereft of corruption?", he asked. "They consider this as an investment and work towards earning that money back," he added.
Congress Allowed Lottery, Country Liquor Which Destroyed Lives
Criticising the former chief minister S M Krishna, Kumaraswamy stated that the Congress encouraged PlayWin lotteries and allowed production and consumption of saarayi (country liquor).
He said that there was a strong lobby which discouraged him from issuing a ban on the above. He added that he felt 'pained' when he saw girls from rural households getting affected as a result of betting and consumption of saarayi.
"Many families had fights, financial difficulties due to country liquor. They (Congress) said that the exchequer will be affected", the former CM said.
Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.
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