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Deve Gowda: There is an undeclared emergency in the country

Giriprakash KV Bengaluru | Updated on April 23, 2019 Published on April 23, 2019

The Janata Dal (Secular) supremo, HD Deve Gowda (85), is as relevant to Indian politics as he was in 1996, when in an unexpected move, the United Front chose him for the prime minister’s post. Deve Gowda’s tenure was short lived as 10 months later he was forced to step down. The JD(S), along with the Congress, now runs the government in Karnataka. In an interview with BusinessLine, he said there is an undeclared emergency in the country. Edited excerpts

What are the main issues before the electorate

Rising crude oil prices will be the key challenge for the new government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will provide a stable, strong and corruption-free government if the NDA comes to power in the 2014. Has it happened? What has been the outcome of demonetisation? Nothing. He did not even take into confidence his own Cabinet. Not even the RBI. He is always trying to mislead the people. The price of a gas cylinder earlier was ₹300 and now it is ₹1,200. The GST is levied on food in a hotel and if you buy vegetables from the market, you have to pay 10 per cent. Does it help the poor people, the common man?

What are your views on the current political discourse?

I never thought that thePrime Minister will use such language to criticise the Opposition. He calls Mahaghatabandhan Maha-milavat. Why does he keep talking about surgical strike as if there was no such thing earlier. He wants to use all this for the political purpose, to cover up for all his lapses. I have been in Parliament for the last 29 years. I have seen the administration of AB Vajpayee, Inder Gujral, PV Narasimha Rao and the others. When the country was facing such economic crisis, Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh got us out of the debt trap. But Modi said he has done everything. What has he done? Modi said by 2025, he will make this country strong and eradicate poverty. Why should he make false promises?

On farm loans...

The type of administration he has given so far will only harm the farmers. There is no mercy for the farm sector. The farmers have been forced to go on a rally to get their demands addressed. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made a categorical statement stating that there is no question of waving the farm loans. If this happens, what will be the plight of the poor farmers? The loan burden when Modi took over as the PM was ₹24 lakh crore and now it has increased to ₹104 lakh crore. Who is going to carry this burden? People will be forced to suffer.

On Constitution, reservation issues...

His Cabinet colleague said this Constitution will be reversed. How can you allow such a Minister to continue in the Cabinet? The RSS chief wants to abolish the reservation system. If Hindutva is the main objective of this government, what will be the fate of the minorities? The farmers are suffering so much; many have committed suicide. This time, the people will give a befitting answer. The BJP wants to remove Article 370. When I was the Prime Minister, the elections in Kashmir were conducted smoothly. The polling percentage was 58 per cent and now it is mere 15 per cent. In what field has he succeeded?.

On Pulwama attack, Agusta Westland and the Rafale deals...

Pulwama attack was a massive intelligence failure. He keeps talking about the Agusta Westland scam and calls Christian Michel as Michel mama (uncle). It is not fair and unbecoming of a Prime Minister to say such things. The Hindu has exposed the deal involving Rafale. But Modi continues to avoid giving details about the deal. He goes and strikes the deal on his own without even taking the Defence Minister there... and then sends the others to defend him. I don’t think this man will come back to power. He has disrespected his own elders in the party.

On IT raids and media...

There have been several raids against Opposition leaders which is quite unprecedented. Some of the media personnel are being harassed. The co-founders of one TV channel were arrested though the court gave them immediate relief. Let me be very plain on this, the situation in the country is nothing but an undeclared emergency. We have never seen this type of a government in the past.

What according to you are the NDA’s prospects in this election?

Modi may not come back to power. I don’t think the NDA will even get a working majority. A party which got 282 seats will fall short of majority. It will be a mandate against his type of administration. The party will then have to start the process of trying to strike an alliance with others.

Do you see yourself as Prime Minister again?

No. There is no question of a repeat of 1996. There will be a coalition government with Rahul Gandhi’s support. Naturally, I will stand by him. There are several competent leaders who are much better than Narendra Modi. For example: Mamata Banerjee. If you go to her house, she has no personal belongings. Chandrababu Naidu, Naveen Patnaik, Mayawatia and Sharad Pawar, all are very competent. We are going to sit together and come to an understanding about the contours of the next government.

Published on April 23, 2019
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