Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy(PTI photo)
Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy(PTI photo)

Exclusive | Ex-CM of Karnataka Kumaraswamy on what led to the fall of his government

Former Karnataka CM says invisible forces had worked to ensure the coalition didn’t survive.
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru | By Vikram Gopal
UPDATED ON JUL 31, 2019 09:27 AM IST

A week after the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition was toppled in Karnataka, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy says internal bickering in the Congress destabilised his government. In an interview with Hindustan Times, he says invisible forces had worked to ensure the coalition didn’t survive. Edited excerpts:

What really happened? Why did your government collapse?

I had expected this from the very beginning. From the first day, the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government was formed on the back of the fractured verdict of 2018. The BJP tried to destabilise it. There was internal bickering in the Congress that added

They tried to bring down this government in February so that we don’t present the Budget. However, because the son of one of our MLAs recorded a conversation of BS Yediyurappa trying to entice him, the government survived. This has been going on for 14 months. So, I wasn’t surprised, I had expected this. The people have seen the episode of the past 15 days. I leave it to their judgement.

Did you expect three MLAs from your party to leave?

Yes, I knew about it because Narayanagowda had gone to Mumbai in February. Gopalaiah had betrayed us in the past as well. [AH] Vishwanath speaks as if he is the holiest person, but such people must introspect on the reason for their victory in last year’s

He might question the JD(S) now and claim that the people made him win, but anyway we will know the
reality in the by-elections. He had some personal problems… if I reveal these it will bring me disrepute.

Do you feel more could have been done to save the government?

The government wouldn’t have fallen even after all the recent developments. It really wasn’t hard to save the government, even after all the rebels left. However, there were many invisible hands that worked to ensure it didn’t survive.

Also read | Sonia Gandhi takes charge in House as Congress faces vacuum

Who were these people?

There is no point in conducting a post-mortem now.

You said in the House you were hoping some MLAs would return. Who were they?

Many had assured me they would come back. But there were other powers that ensured they did not. That’s why I said in my speech in the Assembly that there will come a judgement day -- no matter what we do, we will have to answer to a higher power. There will not be any advocates there or friends.

Some rebels allege you didn’t address their problems. What is your response?

I don’t know what these problems were. None of them spoke to me personally. I informed the House about the amount of money I granted each of the rebels to develop their constituencies. Anyway, their party leaders should talk about their allegations. Those who claim they weren’t helped by the government are lying.

Do you believe Yediyurappa will not indulge in vindictive politics, as he has said?

Even before taking oath of office… he called the chief secretary and asked him to stop new projects and transfers sanctioned in July. That is his character. He said ‘forgive and forget’ but on Monday I found out that he has ordered an inquiry into some decisions I have taken. Let them launch any inquiry. We didn’t influence constitutional organisations like Yediyurappa did.

Do you feel the governor interfered in the floor test?

No, I won’t speak ill of the governor, he had pressure from a lot of invisible forces. He works under the central government. He is there to advise the state government, to ensure it doesn’t veer off course. However, when there are political developments, he works on the basis of the central government’s directions. That’s just the way these institutions have evolved in the country.

Are you suggesting that the BJP central leadership was involved?

Why would the governor act in such a manner if there was no pressure? However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the BJP’s central leadership was involved in… the defections.

Were there differences between you and HD Deve Gowda when you inducted two independents in the state Cabinet in June?

Yes, he said we should reconsider it. But Congress leaders felt it was good, even though there was opposition in their party as well.

Some rebels have said Siddaramaiah was behind the fall of the coalition...

No, I don’t feel that way. It had gone out of his control, in my opinion.

What now for the coalition? Will you contest the by-elections together?

I can’t talk about the coalition’s future right now. We have the experience of the parliamentary elections. So, both parties’ leaders have to take a final decision.

Some leaders in your party have asked you to support the BJP. What have you decided?

There is no question of going with any party. The party should grow independently. We have to fight the BJP, so we can’t go with them.

Are there fresh efforts at poaching more MLAs?

Even now Congress and JD(S) MLAs are being enticed to defect, despite the BJP forming the government. This is why I brought it up in the House on Monday.

How long do you think the BJP government will last?

This is a very unstable government, and I don’t feel it will last long. It might collapse any moment.

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