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?Regional parties key?

Former PM Deve Gowda thinks regional parties will be crucial in next govt.
PTI | By Srinivasa Prasad, Bangalore
PUBLISHED ON APR 27, 2004 05:59 PM IST

After being Prime Minister for 11 months ("by accident," as he himself once said), Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, 71, hasn't had much going for him since 1997. He is now attracting huge crowds in southern Karnataka and hopes to be kingmaker, if not king, both in Bangalore and Delhi. He spoke to Hindustan Times. Excerpts:

What do you think of the opinion/exit polls?

All of them will be proved wrong. They don't take into account ground realities. People will laugh at them and forget about it. NDA won't get more than 180 seats. Regional parties will hold the key to who forms the next government.

You seem to be getting a good response in Karnataka.

This is nothing but a popular upsurge. But I haven't been able to campaign in the whole state. I simply don't have resources. I travel by road, so how much can I cover?

What role do you see for yourself after the elections?

If regional parties are in a position to form an alternative government, I will support it. There will be political regrouping.

If the PM's job comes your way again?

I am not interested.

What will be the outcome in Karnataka?

The Congress government is one of the worst the state has had and is facing defeat.

If the Assembly is hung, will you support the Congress?

Why do you presume my party won't get a majority? If we don't get a majority, we will sit in the Opposition.

People say you and Sonia Gandhi have a soft corner for each other. That's why she hasn't put up a strong candidate against you in Kanakapura constituency and she cancelled her tour of your home district?

Not true.

Why are you contesting from two places - Kanakapura and Hassan?

I chose Kanakapura because it gave me political rebirth (in the bypoll after his 1999 defeat). I am contesting from Hassan because my partymen wanted it.

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