‘The disgruntlement of Congress MLAS has been exploited by BJP’
Karnataka’s eight-month-old ruling alliance of Congress-janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), has hit roughweather.severalabsentee Congress legislators have defied the party whip, the party has had to threaten action against them, and chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has threatened to quit in January over ‘out of turn’ statements. In an interview, Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao, 49, one of the youngest to hold the post, spoke about the ongoing controversy. Rao maintained that all was well with the alliance, but accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “exploiting the disgruntlement” of Congress legislators. Edited excerpts:
Karnataka is one of the biggest states which has an opposition alliance. How critical is the success of this alliance, especially for 2019?
It is very important because the Congress has formed this alliance to show that it is ready to work with other political parties and we are ready to sacrifice also. Even though we were the bigger party, we aligned with the smaller party and gave them the chief ministerial post.
This is to tell people that we are willing to go the extra mile to see that the alliance is working. Today, whatever may be the impression that is being created, at many levels, this alliance is working very well. We are going to fight elections together only and I am confident we will do very well in
What is the reason behind the present crisis? What are the demands of these MLAS?
Some of them want to be ministers, so they are being lured into this. On some of them, a lot of pressure may be put by the use of (investigative) agencies...or using inducements like ministerial berths. (The audio) said clearly that they will manage Governor, judges etc. I have never seen any political party go to this extent to destabilize or disrespect people’s mandate. BJP’S attitude and money power is the main reason behind this crisis.
But Congress is in power in other states as well. Why, according to you, BJP is trying to do this only in Karnataka?
Because, they are desperate. It is a policy they have adopted at the national level to see that this government breaks because they want to show that Congress cannot do the chief minister had threatened to quit...
In today’s media frenzied world, one statement can get hyped up ten times over. A person would have said in a different context but by the time it comes out, it carries a different meaning altogether. We have told and warned our leaders that strict action will be taken if they don’t desist from it.
Do you think the messaging is problematic that the top leadership is not able to rein in erring leaders?
I think now, more or less things have got sorted out. After this session is over, we will go ahead with seat-sharing talks and go ahead with campaigning.
Do you think ambition of some of the senior leaders in the party is a hindrance in the prospects of the alliance?