MYSURU: The Congress-JD(S) coalition in the state is not just about stopping PM Narendra Modi from returning to power, but also about surviving the onslaught, should the BJP win more seats in the state as well, according to former chief minister and coalition co-ordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah.
In a frank talk with TNIE, the senior Congress leader minced no words while discussing the future of the coalition government.
What impact do you think the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections will have on the national political scenario?
It is a crucial election for India as it has become more important than ever for secular parties to unite and save the country from communal forces. Modi, with his dictatorial attitude, and Amit Shah, who is against the pluralistic character of the country, must be stopped. The duo is fighting to change the Constitution, impose one religion and one culture, which is against the spirit of India.
Do you see Modi as a bigger threat to Congress or to the country?
Definitely for the country. It is unfortunate that as Prime Minister, Modi attacked Rahul Gandhi for contesting from Wayanad, by accusing him of opting for a minority-dominated constituency. Such charges divide the country on the basis of religioun, and top BJP leaders are attacking their opponents on communal lines.
Was the Congress shaken after the Balakot airstrike?
I don’t want to comment on the strike, but one thing is certain — the strike was used to cover up their lapses on issues concerning farmers, the unemployed and poor labourers.
What impact do you foresee on the state government from the Lok Sabha poll results?
There is no doubt that a good performance by the BJP will have an implication on the stability of the government. The BJP will claim that the mood of the people is against the coalition, and start poaching MLAs. Keeping our leaders together will be a herculean task.
Has anti-incumbency against the coalition government affected the prospects of Congress candidates?
We are running the coalition government to stop the BJP from coming into power. We must then face anti-incumbency together. We cannot run away as we are also part of the government.
How successful do you think you and Deve Gowda will be in getting votes transferred during the election?
There is no issue in North Karnataka as the contest is between the Congress and BJP. The problem is in Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan, Tumakuru and Chikkaballapur, as fighting elections as part of a coalition is new to us here. Both parties have fought bitterly against each other in all elections -- from village panchayats to the state assembly. Improving ties will take some time, and it is slowly getting better. Several parties came together under the umbrella of the Janata Party, but differences continued even after running the government for 2.5 years.
Doesn’t sharing bonhomie with Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy mean that you have compromised on your struggle for Ahinda communities?
No. I will always fight against feudalism and for social justice. Our goal here is to finish a bigger enemy and to save the nation from Modi and his communal forces. There is no question of giving up the struggle for Ahinda communities till I am in public life.
Does the accusation by Chandrababu Naidu, of 30% of EVMs being faulty, worry you?
It does. Our party leaders have approached the Election Commission. Going back to ballot papers is the only solution. When developed nations are holding elections using ballot papers, why can’t we do it in India?
Modi has accused the Karnataka government of being a 20% commission government.
It is a baseless and irresponsible comment. Modi is known for making such charges to tarnish our image and enhance his popularity. I challenge Modi to prove the charges with evidence, I will instead go on record to say that Modi’s government is 100 percent corrupt.
Won’t the simmering tensions between DK Shivakumar and M B Patil on the Lingayat-Veerashaiva issue create problems?
I have no comment as it is a non-issue. The party has taken care of it already.