‘JD(S)-BJP alliance not just on ideological basis’: Ex-Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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‘JD(S)-BJP alliance not just on ideological basis’: Ex-Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy

Apr 24, 2024 07:50 AM IST

Our decision to align with the NDA wasn’t merely survival-driven, it was a strategic move based on a long-term vision, says former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy

The Janata Dal (Secular) has partnered with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka since both parties are committed to providing good governance and share mutual interests, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy tells Arun Dev in an interview. Edited excerpts:

The Janata Dal (Secular) has partnered with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka. (PTI) PREMIUM
The Janata Dal (Secular) has partnered with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka. (PTI)

The Janata Dal (Secular) has partnered with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka since both parties are committed to providing good governance and share mutual interests, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy told Arun Dev in an interview. Edited excerpts:

JD(S) has partnered with the NDA this time. Why did you make that decision? Initially, it was said that it is a matter of the existence of JD(S). So are you part of this alliance for political survival?

Our decision to align with the NDA wasn’t merely survival-driven. It was a strategic move based on a long-term vision for our party and the people of Karnataka. We’ve been struggling to build the party for the last 17 to 18 years.

Since 2008, several leaders from our party, after enjoying power, have left the party. Our strength has been evident in several elections where we secured between 35 to 40 seats, without any major support. Similarly, in Parliament, we’ve consistently held two to three seats. In Karnataka, after the assembly election, the BJP also realised that in certain parts of the state, if we join forces, it will benefit both parties. For that reason, we came together in Karnataka. The Congress leaders have been misusing their authority, indulging in corruption, and attempting to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure more seats this time around.

With the BJP-JD(S) in alliance, how do you see this affecting the Congress?

This alliance has made Congress uneasy. Initially, they thought they would secure more than 26 seats, but now their confidence is wavering. Internally, we know that their assumptions and political analysts suggest they won’t secure more than three to four seats. That’s the ground reality.

How do you address concerns about BJP’s focus on Hindutva and alleged threats to the Constitution?

Throughout the electoral campaign, they (Congress) seem fixated on caste politics rather than genuine secularism. Their so-called commitment to secularism is shallow, primarily serving as a vote-gathering tactic. What concrete steps have they taken to fortify secularism in our nation? Regarding Hindutva politics and discussions of constitutional amendments, it’s important to understand India’s diverse fabric since independence. Despite occasional incidents, various communities have coexisted in harmony. The claims by the Congress that a BJP-led government would dismantle the constitutional framework, which was laid down by Ambedkar, is a fearmongering tactic that misleads innocent citizens. Just days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the constitution crafted by Ambedkar’s team will not be changed. This alliance is built on mutual respect and understanding.

Your father was one of the staunch critics of PM Modi, what changed?

Back then, my father indeed criticised Modi for various developments in Gujarat, particularly concerning certain negative incidents. But, over the past decade, his perspective on Modi has evolved. Many people now view him as a leader capable of steering the country towards prosperity. In light of this, Deva Gowdaji expressed the view that Narendra Modi is the need of the hour for our nation’s security.

Critics argue that your alliance with Congress during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections failed due to a lack of vote transfer. Do you think it will be different with the BJP?

When we joined hands with Congress in the 2019 polls, it wasn’t a natural alliance. Congress and JD(S) had been fighting each other for the last 25-30 years. Naturally, our workers weren’t happy with the alliance, nor were the Congress workers. The Congress joined forces with us, but internally, they wanted to finish off JD(S). They supported other opposition candidates wherever we contested, which was the main factor behind our loss in the last election.

In South Karnataka, the BJP had little presence before our alliance, but with the partnership, they might gain more influence. Some perceive this as a threat to JD(S) or the existence of a three-party system.

There’s no question of threatening or weakening any party, particularly one that is rooted in reality like ours. Our alliance with the BJP is a natural one. We worked together in 2006-2007 and provided good governance, which was appreciated by the people. We wanted to continue our alliance, but some leaders from various parties hindered it. Ultimately, the BJP-JD(S) combination in Karnataka will diminish Congress. We don’t have to resort to mischief; they’re doing it themselves. As for the CM post, there are internal issues within Congress, and anything could happen after the parliamentary election results.

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