interview by G Vishnu/ Tehelka (Excerpts from Tehelka)
You arrived in New Delhi before Yeddyurappa did to meet with National Executive members. We hear that this was to prepare the ground support for Yeddyurappa.
There is gross misunderstanding of the situation in Delhi. We have come here to clarify things, to correct the picture. There was a lot of confusion and anxiety over land obtained from the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), which facilitates land for entrepreneurs. The Chief Minister himself has said that if there have been illegalities, they will be rectified. He offered to return some land and he did.
There is a tradition of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) availing land under the G category. Yeddyurappa was only following in others’ footsteps. Everybody pounced on us, saying that it is a crime to have allotted plots to MPs who already own property in Bengaluru. Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MPs have manipulated this in far worse ways, even as they had 4-5 houses in the city. There might have been improprieties. When Congress leader Dharam Singh and JD (S) supreme HD Deve Gowda were in power, they distributed land amongst several relatives. They have no moral ground to sling mud. On what ground does Deve Gowda cry foul? This is just dirty politics. Two years back, they betrayed us on the seat-sharing agreement. What credibility do these parties have? If you expose the deeds of JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, when he was running a minority government, the list of illegalities will be skyhigh. Kumaraswamy is the villain in this story. He can never be the hero.
If this was the case, why do you think there’s been such an unprecedented uproar in the media as well as the civil society?
The media is acting as if they do not know anything that happened in the past. It is getting very selective in reporting on the BJP. There might have been mistakes, errors in judgement, but to highlight only our mistakes is vicious. Is it just? Is it dharma? Let’s talk about everyone’s mistakes.
In the last two years, this is the third time the government has come close to falling. Report after report highlights various scams…
Our time is not right. Maybe it’s our fate that every year we have to be plagued by one allegation or another. Perhaps it’s only when we are plagued by allegations that we are alert. I need to say this, specifically to media organisations like TEHELKA; in a democracy, elections decide the popularity and the strength of a government. We have faced seven types of elections in the last three years. We have won every single time - from Lok Sabha elections to local panchayat elections. And the opposition parties cannot tolerate our popularity. Why don’t you (media) understand this? Look at the popular sentiment in Karnataka. People are happy with this government.
What about the infighting within the party? Hasn’t it gotten a little too ugly? Dissidents within BJP are brazenly attacking the government. First the Reddy brothers, now Ananth Kumar…
First of all, everybody is happy with Yeddyurappa’s governance. He has been an efficient chief minister. Today we are in second place in the country as far as development is concerned, next only to Gujarat. As for the dissidents, they are just a handful in number. For instance, I asked the BJP president Nitin Gadkari if anybody from the national executive body had asked Yeddyurappa to resign. He completely denied it. He said this drama is because of media speculation. Now the media don’t make up things on their own. Of course, there are insiders who are stoking the fire for their own reasons. We ourselves are looking for answers. If it’s not the dissidents, we will just blame the media for this brouhaha. The immediate stand within the party is to save the party, save the government and save the image of the party. Everything will be done to that end.
So politically speaking, what are the corrective measures the party wants to take up?
The question of corrective measures arises when there is something wrong. There is nothing wrong in the party. However, what we can do is leave the past behind and concentrate on efficient administration and development. Be it government or corporate sector, there’s always scope for improvement. It’s a competitive world. If we can send a green signal to the Centre that everything in Karnataka is fine, things will be fine.
Most observers have commented saying that BJP has no moral ground to cry foul on Congress’ 2G scam. The mining scam in Karnataka is often quoted…
What mining scam are you talking about? We are the first government in the country to have stopped export of iron ore. It is very clear. As soon as we got the first report from Lokayukta, we changed our mining policy immediately.
2G scam is one of the biggest national level scams. Please don’t compare it with this…It’s a fraud that puts to shame even the Bofors scandal. All the alleged scams in Karnataka are small change compared to the earthquake of 2G spectrum scam.