Q&A with former chief minister of Karnataka
B S Yeddyurappa is tense but talks with great patience. The task ahead of him is onerous. Fidgeting his fingers while all the time measuring up preparations for a mammoth rally planned on Sunday at Haveri in Karnataka for the launch of his new party – Karnataka Janata Party - BSY as he is called in the political circles, recently quit BJP after being with that party for four decades right from the Jan Sangh days. He has remorse that he got a raw deal and vowed he will never ever align with BJP. A staunch disciple of RSS, Yeddyurappa said he not does not even want to discuss about RSS, going forward. In an interview with Raghuvir Badrinath, Yeddyurappa, who has a large following in the dominant Lingayat community, shares how he intends to get back at his political rivals.
You were the poster boy for BJP in South India having got them to power for the first time in South India, but you were told clearly that you have give up the post of CM and you were also denied the position of party president in Karnataka. It must have left a sour taste after being with BJP for 40 years?
The series of developments has been pretty sad. I was removed as chief minister despite there being no directions from the then Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde or in his report asking for me to step down. Santosh Hegde has himself stated this. Despite this the BJP central leadership made me step down. I was also assured by the central leadership that I would be reinstated as chief minister when the courts give me relief and, also that a day after I stepped down I would be made state president of the party. Neither of these assurances was kept. There was a powerful lobby within the party that wanted me out and was keen to install someone as the chief minister.
You are angry against the party because you were removed as chief minister?
No. I am not angry because I was removed or because they failed to keep their assurances. I am angry because I was not allowed to complete the development programmes and plans for the state that I had initiated. I had a vision for Karnataka. For the last one year ever since I was removed there has been no developmental work in the State and people are suffering.
You are planning to contest for all the 224 seats in the forthcoming elections with your fledgling KJP. You will be up against established parties like BJP, Congress and JD(S). You are trying to do something what mass leaders like Devaraj Urs and S Bangarappa couldn’t achieve. It looks like an uphill task for you.
I have planned this out properly and for a start we are expecting atleast 400,000 people to gather for the launch of my party on Sunday.
I have an appeal across all sections of people and we are gunning for majority. I am not thinking about aligning with anyone as of now, certainly not BJP or JD(S).
As far as other leaders are concerned, they launched their parties in a different era and we are seeing the emergence of strong regional parties. Regional parties are in the forefront and coalition dharma and coalition governments have come to stay. In Karnataka too the time is right for a regional party to take over, properly address issues of the state and protect the interests of the people: Something that successive Karnataka governments have failed to do. Take the case of sharing Cauvery river waters. Tamil Nadu has consistently been given a better deal because of the influence exerted on the Union government by a regional party. In today’s coalition climate the party which forms a government at the Centre will only care for regional parties which send in significant members of Lok Sabha members. My party will have to win a substantial number of Lok Sabha seats. I already have the support of 12 of them and around 50 in the state assembly.
The BJP has consistently claimed to be a party with a difference when it came to power in the Sotuh. But being in power for four years in Karnataka has totally disproved this. Internal battles, corruption, nepotism have been rife.
I tried to give good governance and development but I was removed. The BJP’s image has definitely gone down. The BJP should dissolve the assembly and face the elections. Let the people of the state decide on who should hold power. When I was forced to step down I should have dissolved the Assembly and sought fresh elections. It was a big mistake not to have done so. But I can honestly say that I did not do so only because of the pleas of the BJP leadership, who realised fully well how difficult it was to get power in a Southern state.
During the launch of your party on Sunday, it is expected that around 50 MLAs from BJP will be attending despite you asking them not to come as it may destabilise the government, given the fact that the chief minister Jagadish Shettar has said that action will be taken against the MLAs. If the MLAs are expelled, wont the government be in minority then?
Though over 30 legislators are interested in joining me at the KJP launch, I have cautioned them not to do anything that will bring down the BJP government. I do not want to cause any harm to a government whose Chief Minister (Shettar) I personally choose. But if legislators themselves do something to bring down the government, I cannot do anything. Also I am not going to forcibly call any of my supporters. It is left to them to decide whether they want to attend the rally. I will be happy if people supporting me join KJP or else I will give a chance to new faces.
Notwithstanding what you say your regional party can at best play the role of ‘spoiler’ and cut into the votes of the BJP?
No. I have already started touring the state to gauge the mood of the people. And even without a party symbol or flag I have attracted a substantial following.
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