Home india-news Siddaramaiah interview: HDK was responsible for coalition govt’s fall in 2021 | Latest News India

Siddaramaiah interview: HDK was responsible for coalition govt’s fall in 2021 | Latest News India

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Siddaramaiah interview: HDK was responsible for coalition govt’s fall in 2021 | Latest News India

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The Congress’s foremost campaigner for the upcoming polls, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is a son of the soil who speaks the language people easily understand. He has been addressing four public gatherings everyday despite a painful herpes infection on his left arm, which he can barely move. Siddaramaiah spoke to Hindustan Times on his party’s prospects and the general outlook ahead of the elections. Edited excerpts:

Congress leader Siddaramaiah. (PTI)
Congress leader Siddaramaiah. (PTI)

As the party’s star campaigner, you’ve travelled across the state. What’s your projection for the Congress in the May 10 elections?

130-plus (out of 224).

I met your old colleague and erstwhile leader in the Janata Dal (Secular), Mr Deve Gowda a couple of days ago. On being reminded of the 2013 elections when you became CM with a clear majority, he dismissively said “Those days are over”, that it’ll never happen again…

See, it’s his illusion. He claims that his party will win 123 seats. Is it possible? In 2004 we won only 59 seats when I myself, former Union minister CM Ibrahim, Dr Madadevappa (former state minister) and Satish Jharkaholi (the Belgaum strongman who’s now the Congress’s state working president) were with the JD(S). (Gowda’s son) Kumaraswamy became the CM (with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party) after I was expelled from the party in 2005. He was there as CM for 20 months. Then elections took place. How many seats did they win? Down from 59, they got only 28. In 2013, they got 40 seats and in 2018, when Kumaraswamy became CM again (with Congress support), they won only 37 seats. How can they possibly win the numbers Gowda is now claiming?

You mean the figures cited by Gowda are a pipe dream?

Yes, yes.

Gowda blames you for the 2021 fall of Kumaraswamy’s coalition he set up with the Congress in 2018. He didn’t specifically name you but dropped enough hints to suggest that you were among the Congress leaders who played disrupters.

Such being the case, may I ask why three MLAs from the JD(S) joined the BJP besides 14 from our party. Regardless of who they blame, Kumaraswamy lost the government because he did not take the MLAs and workers into confidence. As CM he lived in Taj Westend for the 14 months he was in power. How can anyone run a government from a hotel? The MLAs got fed up with him. They became unhappy. That’s why they all went with the BJP.

He had no one else but himself to blame?

Kumaraswamy himself was responsible, nobody else.

If the Congress is winning 130-plus indeed, why did you the other day say that the impending elections will be your last? I’m asking because politicians normally turn elections into swansongs if they’re not confident of the outcome. You are just 75.

I’m 76.

Okay, you’re 76. But Deve Gowda is 89 and (Congress president) Mallikarjun Kharge is 80. They are older than you.

They’re elder to me… it’s okay (but) I don’t want to be in electoral politics after I’m 80. I’m 76 now and will be 81 after five years. I’d be active in politics thereafter but will not contest elections.

Does that mean if you become CM again, you’d demit office in the last year of your tenure and let someone else take over?

No, no. I was CM earlier for a full five years. I did not want to run away from responsibility. That’s why I contested the last (2018) election. This time I’m in the race because the BJP’s has been the most corrupt and communal government which is spreading hatred in the state. I’m contesting again to dislodge this government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked you the other day, saying you’re seeking votes as a retirement benefit. What do you have to say to him?

He’s a great liar. The country never had a PM who lies in such a manner.

But Deve Gowda had praise for him. Mutually, the PM and BS Yeddyurappa also had a good word for Gowda. When I asked Gowda, he said…

(Interjects) There’s an internal understanding between Deve Gowda and Narendra Modi and Yeddyurappa.

Which means the JD(S) will not support the Congress if it falls short of a majority?

That question does not arise because the Congress will have a comfortable majority. My ground assessment is that we’ll get 130-plus seats.

If you get 130-plus, what’s your assessment of the seats in the BJP’s kitty and that of the JD(S)?

The JD(S) may get 20-25 and the BJP 60-65.

Are you and DK Shivakumar (the other CM aspirant in the Congress) really working as a team?

We are cooperating with each other.


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