BANGALORE: There were a host of visitors waiting at Anugraha, the home office of Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda at 6 am. There were politicians, seers, general public, academicians, government officials and party workers. “I am sorry for keeping you waiting. I don’t want to simply shake my head to people’s problems. At least, I should give them a fair time to speak. That’s why the delay,” he says before the interview.
In the last six months as CM what are your major achievements?
I have brought back administration to track. Almost all officers up to district-level are now working day and night for implementation of government projects. In spite of drought in nearly 126 taluks out of 175, we have done our best in sorting out concerns of farmers. Even a Central committee headed by Vijayakumar, appreciated our good initiatives. Right to Services Act, which we are launching from March 1 on a pilot basis after discussions, is another achievement. Because of the slum policy, we have started giving title deeds to the needy. On irrigation front, we have given administrative approval for Upper Krishna project with an estimate of `17,000 crore. It will irrigate up to 2 lakh hectares of land. On power supply, despite shortage, we are doing a perfect balancing act. We are ensuring that for another three months there should be no shortage of drinking water. Law and order situation, too, is the best.
What are five things you wanted to do in the last six months, but couldn’t?
(1) Most important wish was to stay in a particular district for two days and
review development work, personally.
(2) I wanted to ensure support price for arecanut, coconut, and ginger among others.
(3) Under PWD, I wanted to take up some projects, especially the state highway development project.
(4) I wanted to pressure the Centre on amendment of Article 371(D) of the Constitution for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
(5) Finally I couldn’t ensure that all my cabinet colleagues were in office as I had wanted in the initial stage.
People say you are a nice man, but being nice alone is not enough. What is preventing you from being tough?
Across party lines we should maintain a very cordial relationship, forgetting all differences. I should be a CM for all 6.5 crore people of Karnataka. These are reasons that I was a bit liberal. I don’t think that just because you become a tough man, it will resolve problems. Your intentions should be clear, your actions should be clean and relationships smooth.
What are the biggest challenges being faced by your government?
Let me put the answer differently. In the last six months, my consciousness says that I have achieved much. I am having a very cordial relationship with my officers and I have succeeded in extracting good work from them. I did it, quietly. There is a small turbulence within party. I am not at all worried about these minor problems. To me, only work matters.
How do you see B S Yeddyurappa?
He is our leader. For various reasons he was asked to step down and one should not think that he has lost everything. He has got capacity, calibre, and experience - and I am making use of all these positive qualities in him. I visit him twice a week to take his guidance. I seek his advice whenever I face tough situations.
What kind of brief you got from your party’s central leadership?
Because of various reasons there are small confusions among the party leaders. Gadkariji (Nitin Gadkari, BJP national president) has clearly told me that there should not be any infighting in party. He has very clearly asked me to lead from the front, smoothly.
Do you think people of Karnataka will throw your government out during the next elections?
No. I can say confidently that corruption has come down by 5-10 per cent. I will not tolerate corruption, come what may. It cannot be done alone. It has to be a collective effort and we will achieve it.
How do you rate your government on a scale of 10?
People have to rate the government. My conscience should say that I am doing a good job. I don‘t get carried away if someone praises me. So far, my conscience has said I am doing a decent and fair job. Still, I need to improve a lot.
What kind of relationship you have with your cabinet colleagues?
DVS: I don‘t interfere in administrative work of my cabinet colleagues as I believe they are all capable of doing a good job. They have also been given a free hand. When policy matters come up, in the interest of state, I step in and give directions.
What role do you enjoy - as an MP or CM?
As MP, I was enjoying my work and was relaxed. As CM, I am now clear that it is a very tough job. You have to be mentally strong and have strong internal techniques to stay positive. After becoming the CM, I wake up at 5 in the morning and begin my work exactly at 5.30 am and it goes on till 12 midnight. I sleep for only five hours.
Are you confident that you will complete your remaining tenure as CM?
Yes. Gadkariji has already said that I should provide good governance. And, my only mission is to ensure a clean administration.