June 26: Higher education minister Dr V.S. Acharya is one of the few members of the state Cabinet, who has no qualms about speaking his heart.
The fact that he is accessible most of the time, is something widely appreciated by even his detractors. This despite his avowed allegiance to the RSS, which has landed him in controversy more than once. In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Dr Acharya spoke about various issues including the much anticipated Cabinet expansion, JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy’s attacks on Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and the image of the first BJP government in the South.
To begin with, let’s talk about the controversy surrounding the chief minister over taking an oath at Dharmasthala. Can the chief minister of a state invite his political rival to face a truth test before god?
I think the media misread the situation. When a person keeps bothering and irritating you every day, a strong believer like Mr Yeddyurappa may tend to hit back saying god will teach you a lesson for bad behaviour.
Then, why did he back out? Will it be a setback for the party?
See what happened later. Pontiffs and seers of several powerful maths and dignitaries spoke out saying Mr Yeddyurappa’s plan to take a vow, was not in good taste. The chief minister positively responded to their sentiments and cancelled his plan. It will not be a setback for him because the person at the other end, can hardly be described as a statesman.
How did the party respond to the latest charges levelled by Mr Kumaraswamy on the involvement of family members of Mr Yeddyurappa in a cement company scam?
The party did not take it seriously because everything happened when the state was under President’s Rule. It is not even worth discussing this in party circles. It is unfortunate that a former chief minister resorted to such tactics. This is because he does not understand the language of democracy.
As a former home minister, what is your view on banning Karnataka Forum for Dignity?
I feel banning such organisations will not help. When the government banned SIMI, activists regrouped under the KFD. When you ban outlaws, they do not cease their activity all of a sudden. Instead, they continue to function under the aegis of a different organisation. I feel filing stringent cases against these people, is the best option. They will then stop their terror activity.
The delay in expanding the Cabinet, has given an impression that the party and government have different views on this. Comment.
You don’t have to read too much into it. We don’t have to expand the Cabinet in a hurry. The thinking in the party is that we should fill 2-3 of the seven vacant Cabinet berths. I don’t think the party top brass is considering filling all seven berths.
How do you view the comments made by senior BJP leader L.K. Advani that the party’s image has taken a beating due to the series of controversies the BJP government landed in?
Image building work is not a one-time measure. It is a continuous process. Mr Advani is the senior most leader of the party and one should not take his comments lightly. Nor is there anything wrong with his view. In spite of implementing so many programmes, controversies sprung up which diverted attention from our work. He has given a piece of advice which we have to strictly adhere to. After Mr Advani made a public observation, Mr Yeddyurappa held a series of meetings and gave a diktat making it mandatory for ministers to attend their offices at Vidhana Soudha.
You claim your achievements are outstanding. So, why is the image of the government bad?
There are two issues. Due to the controversies, we could not highlight our performance. Two, the Opposition Congress and JD(S) are getting disheartened. That’s why they keep making baseless and sometimes silly charges. Of the 28 byelections held since 2008, we have won 19. What other proof do you need to assess our popularity?