?Regional parties will hold the key?

PTI | BySrinivas Prasad, Bangalore
May 03, 2004 09:25 PM IST

Former PM HD Deve Gowda says regional parties will play a crucial role in forming the next government.

Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda has a record of bouncing back to centrestage after being pushed into political oblivion. After being the Prime Minister for 11 months, Gowda, 71, hasn’t had much going for him either in Karnataka or nationally since 1997. But he is now attracting huge crowds in southern Karnataka and hopes to be the kingmaker, if not the king, both in Bangalore and Delhi. Excerpts from an interview with Hindustan Times.

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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 play a crucial role in forming the next government.

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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, and 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. Parties will leave and join NDA.

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 had and is facing defeat. The media has failed in the job to expose it.

If the Assembly is hung, will you support the Congress?
Why do you presume, my party won't get majority. If we don't get majority, we will sit in the Opposition.

People say you and Sonia Gandhi have a softcorner for each other. That’s why she hasn’t put up a strong candidate against you in Kanakapura constituency.
Not true.

Why are you contesting from two places: Kanakapura and Hassan? Insecurity?
I chose Kanakapura because it gave me political rebirth (in bypoll after 1999 defeat). I am contesting from Hassan because of demand by partymen.

After being a PM and a CM, why are you so bitter these days?
When some people misuse office for personal gain, I don't tolerate it and they don't tolerate my style of functioning. I am a tough guy.

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