Deve Gowda backs Rahul for PM

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Front page - Venkate­sha Babu and Vikram Gopal let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

BENGALURU: Janata Dal (Sec­u­lar) pa­tri­arch HD Deve Gowda has said his party has no hes­i­ta­tion in back­ing Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi for the Prime Min­is­ter’s post. Deve Gowda, how­ever, said Gandhi should be care­ful about the lan­guage he uses to at­tack his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. “Any lan­guage that hurts the of­fice of the PM– no­body should use such lan­guage [such as “chowki­daar chor hai”],” the for­mer PM said in an in­ter­view.

On a Congress-jd(s) seat­shar­ing pact, he said: “The for­mula that has been adopted by the Congress af­ter the for­ma­tion of the [Kar­nataka] gov­ern­ment is one-third for us on all is­sues.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter HD Deve Gowda, the Janata Dal (Sec­u­lar) pa­tri­arch, has started yet an­other elec­tion cam­paign in his six-decade-long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. He spoke to Venkate­sha Babu and Vikram Gopal about the Union gov­ern­ment’s schemes, a united Op­po­si­tion, the im­prove­ment he has seen in Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi, and how his fo­cus will re­main on Kar­nataka ahead of the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions. Edited ex­cerpts:

What is your view on the per­for­mance of the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment?

His [Modi’s] pub­lic­ity team is quite some­thing. No prime min­is­ter in this coun­try has spent so much money on pub­lic­ity. I don’t think it was his per­sonal money, cor­po­rates and some in­ter­ested peo­ple [funded it]. His first speech was on “bhrash­tata-mukt bharat” [cor­rup­tion-free In­dia]. Was he able to achieve this?

In your as­sess­ment what have been his achieve­ments?

I told him that he has an­nounced sev­eral pro­grammes, but have they per­co­lated to the com­mon man? Make in In­dia, Dig­i­tal In­dia, Skill In­dia - so many pro­grammes. I am not go­ing to say they are all bad; but there is a vast dif­fer­ence in the quan­tum of pub­lic­ity and the quan­tum of real ground-level ben­e­fit.

Are you say­ing the hype is more that the de­liv­ery?

That is the is­sue. Take de­mon­eti­sa­tion - the Re­serve Bank of In­dia it­self said that it didn’t know… he did not take the Re­serve Bank into con­fi­dence. Your think­ing may be in the right di­rec­tion, but have you achieved the ob­jec­tives?

The BJP says that the econ­omy will be in tat­ters if an Op­po­si­tion coali­tion comes to power? I was prime min­is­ter for a short span of 10 months. What was the agri­cul­tural growth then? It was 7.8%, ac­cord­ing to the RBI bul­letin and the Eco­nomic Sur­vey of 1997. The GDP growth was 6.8%.Who sanc­tioned na­tional high­ways in the north-eastern states? I was the first prime min­is­ter af­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru to visit the north­east­ern states for de­vel­op­men­tal works and to study my coun­try. Modi went for elec­tions ev­ery­where. I was un­able to do that. I did not give im­por­tance to for­eign trips.

What do you think of the Rafale deal and the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing it?

Emer­gency pur­chases have got a for­mula and I don’t want to get into the de­tails. The only prob­lem is that there is a di­rect at­tack on the Prime Min­is­ter. Where was the need for him to ab­stain from the House? Rahul Gandhi, a young man, raised the is­sue. The de­fence min­is­ter [Nir­mala Sithara­man] has done well, she made all the points. But the point is, why did the prime min­is­ter keep away from the House? Why does he speak out­side the House? You have got a ma­jor­ity of 282 seats.

What is your view of Rahul Gandhi’s slo­gan, “Chowki­dar chor hai”?

That is not proper. Any lan­guage that hurts the of­fice of the prime min­is­ter - no­body should use such lan­guage. My hum­ble opin­ion is that he is the prime min­is­ter of the coun­try and not of any po­lit­i­cal party.

What is your read­ing of the 2019 elec­tions?

I am 86, my party has been re­duced to 37 seats in the state, and I have only two mem­bers in the Lok Sabha [What can I say?]

What do you think will hap­pen af­ter the elec­tions?

Sit­ting in Bengaluru, you want to ask my opin­ion. [laughs] It is very dif­fi­cult. The day on which my son took oath, all non-bjp, non­nda [Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance] lead­ers and six chief min­is­ters were on the dais. The eu­pho­ria cre­ated on that day, does it still re­main? It is very dif­fi­cult to an­swer that.

Are you go­ing to play peace­maker be­tween the coali­tion part­ners?

I have to give promi­nence to Kar­nataka. The task [of play­ing peace­maker be­tween par­ties of a prospec­tive Ma­haghata­band­han] was taken over by [Andhra Pradesh chief min­is­ter N] Chan­drababu Naidu, who has got bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence.

In Kar­nataka there is a con­flict over seat shar­ing be­tween JD(S) and Congress…

No, the for­mula that has been adopted by the Congress af­ter the for­ma­tion of the gov­ern­ment is one-third for us on all is­sues. A third of 28 Lok Sabha seats is 10. De­cide this seat shar­ing quickly, this should be over be­cause we should tour the state.

You said you would let your grand­son Pra­jwal Re­vanna con­test from Has­san…

I am giv­ing you a cat­e­gor­i­cal re­ply, tak­ing our lead­ers in my Par­lia­ment seg­ment I have al­ready de­cided that my grand­son is go­ing to con­test.

Where will you con­test from?

First of all I have not yet made up my mind to con­test. No­body can force me to con­test, it is my own de­ci­sion. Now the task be­fore me is to tour the state.

Do you see a United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance 3 com­ing to power?

It is in the hands of the peo­ple.

Do you feel the coali­tion needs a face for the elec­tions?

All these things will be de­cided by the man­date of the peo­ple. You come back to me af­ter May and I will tell you.

Is Rahul Gandhi the nat­u­ral can­di­date to be the coali­tion’s prime min­is­te­rial nom­i­nee?

Yes. Rahul Gandhi is a young, up­com­ing leader. He was made pres­i­dent of the Congress a year back. From then, I have seen the quan­tum of ex­pe­ri­ence he has gained, but there is room for im­prove­ment. As a coali­tion part­ner, here I have no hes­i­ta­tion in ex­tend­ing my sup­port. We want Rahul to be PM.

Have you seen a dras­tic change in the way he op­er­ates?

That is what I have seen. But only, as a young­ster some of the lan­guage he uses he should re­frain from, that “chor” or what­ever. Out of emo­tion at times a young man may lose his pa­tience. With our vast ex­pe­ri­ence, we have con­trolled those emo­tions.

What did you think about the reser­va­tion bill for up­per castes? Some ex­perts have said it is a sign of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) des­per­a­tion?

›Rahul Gandhi raised the Rafale is­sue. The de­fence min­is­ter has done well, she made all the points. But the point is, why did PM keep away from the House? Why does he speak out­side the House?

I agree 100%. Till the last minute, not even an ad­di­tional agenda was brought, but they in­tro­duced the Bill. Ev­ery­body was scared, why?

Could it be a po­lit­i­cal mas­ter­stroke?

Eu­pho­ria has been cre­ated, that’s all I can say.

ARIJIT SEN/HT FILE

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