‘Ready to face polls if ruling coalition dissolves Karnataka government’: BS Yeddyurappa
Former Karnataka chief minister and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa is basking in the glory of his party’s victories in 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Yeddyurappa said the results exceeded even his own expectations of 22 seats. Edited excerpts:
When you said before the election that you would win 22 seats, nobody believed you. Did you expect this result or did it exceed your expectations?
To be frank, three months ago I got the clearance for 27 candidates in the state from the central leadership, except for the Bangalore South seat. We also toured each constituency thrice and asked people to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi another term at the helm. I was confident that we would get 22 seats. There were a few reasons for this. First, Modi’s leadership and the work done by his government, and second, the state government was seen as corrupt.
So, the results were beyond your expectation as well?
I was confident that we would win 22, including Mandya, but we managed to win 26. The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)]being in coalition were able to win only one seat each. The Congress had never reached such a low in the state.
In last year’s assembly elections as well, if we hadn’t lost 15-16 seats by margins of less than 2,000 votes, we’d have had a BJP government in the state and the Centre. In my resignation speech when I was chief minister for three days [last May] I had said that the Congress would be destroyed by the father and son [former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy].
Why do you think the discourse in the Lok Sabha polls reached such a low in the state?
It is because of this that we managed to win so many seats because people were angry that they were making such comments about me. [Chief minister HD] Kumaraswamy and [former chief minister] Siddaramaiah made such comments not just about me but even about Modi. The people taught them a lesson.
You led in 177 assembly segments in these polls. So do you prefer fresh elections to be called in the state?
If the assembly is dissolved today and we go in for fresh polls there is no doubt that we will win 175 seats [out of 224]. It is for this reason that the coalition is trying to overcome personal animosity and Kumaraswamy has met Siddaramaiah to seek help to save this government. However, even now at least 18-20 Congress MLAs are unhappy and are not ready to accept Kumaraswamy as their chief minister. They might take any decision and I am waiting for that.
I have decided that after Prime Minister Modi is sworn in to office I will call a meeting of our MPs and MLAs and discuss with everybody about the prevailing conditions. Should we allow this government to continue in this manner? We will discuss what we can do.
Will you wait for the government to fall on its own or will you invite dissidents to join your party?
We will not appeal to anybody. It is up to the dissident Congress MLAs to decide. Based on their decision, we will see what is to be done because we are not ascetics.
Will you accept if the JD(S) offers support?
We have suffered at their hands once when we were in coalition [between 2006 and 2008]. We’ve learnt our lesson and we will not repeat it.
Will you not accept even if they agree to take the deputy chief minister’s post leaving the CM’s post for you?
There has not been any such discussion and our party workers and MLAs do not wish to join hands with them at all.
Are you ready for polls if the coalition dissolves the assembly?
We will welcome it.
Is it your opinion that the assembly should be dissolved?
It is not a question of my opinion. The coalition has to decide what it wants to do. I doubt that they have the courage to dissolve the assembly.
Will you be open to moving to New Delhi if you are asked to join the Union Cabinet?
When [former prime minister] Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked me to join the Union Cabinet I said I wanted to work for the party in the state. I don’t have any interest in the central government.
Your term as BJP state president is coming to an end. Will you seek re-election?
This is a decision left to the central leadership because this is a national party. My term is coming to an end and I will abide by the party’s decision.
One criticism against you is that you haven’t built second-rung leadership.
Is it really so? So many of our leaders have been ministers in central governments, there are many MPs. And I wasn’t the only person to become chief minister when our party came to power. DV Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar, too, had become chief ministers. I have always worked to build other leaders.
Will you suggest the name of your successors?
If the central leadership asks my opinion, I will give it, but I will not press for any person voluntarily.
Whenever there is talk of dynastic politics, the Congress rebuffs charges against itself by pointing at you in Karnataka...
I haven’t spoken out against anybody. If anyone comes up on their own effort and becomes MLA or MP, it is up to them. I wouldn’t like to call this dynastic politics. However, in Deve Gowda’s case, the whole family was contesting the polls and I spoke out against this.
The coalition leaders are talking about reviving the investigation against you in the bribery case from earlier this year.
Why are you asking this question when there is not an element of truth in this. This matter is over and the Karnataka high court dismissed it.
Sumalatha [independent MP from Mandya] was supported by your party, has she met you after her victory?
She met me twice after winning the seat but I haven’t asked her to join the party.