“I Have An Open Mind To Have Electoral Alliance With BJP” –B S Yeddyurappa
“My sole concern is the interest of Karnataka. I will decide about our choice or preference for electoral alliance based on what is in the interest of the state and also going by the national mood. KJP is a regional party in form and also has a nationalist outlook. But at the same time, there is no such thing as altruism in politics,” former Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa said in an exclusive conversation with Uday India Special Correspondent, S.A. Hemantha Kumar. Excerpts:
You seem to be confused about your future political journey.
No. That is not correct. I am very clear about where to go and what to do. We have decided that our party Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) will not merge with any party; it will not lose its identity. But we are open for electoral alliance with any party.
How do you choose your electoral partner, when you say that you are open for an alliance with any party? What are the criteria?
There are two criteria. First, our alliance must benefit Karnataka through our party. I am not going to sacrifice the interest of Karnataka for the sake of electoral or political gain. We are building KJP solely to protect the interest of Karnataka by playing a major role at the Centre as a pressure group. Secondly, though we are a regional party, we have a strong national outlook. So, we will also go by the national mood. As of today, it is too premature to say anything in categorical terms.
But you had talks with BJP leaders and have also praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. It means you want to re-join BJP.
I said that there is no question of merging KJP with any party. It is true that I have a great appreciation for Modiji. He has a proven track record of being a good administrator. He has pan-India appeal. There is nothing wrong in praising good qualities. But that alone cannot be a basis for me to decide about electoral alliance. There is no such thing as altruism in politics. I will decide about having electoral alliance based on what is good for the state and the national mood. I should be conscious of what is in store for KJP also in future. I cannot sacrifice on the self-respect of the state, self-respect of my colleagues and workers and lastly my individual self-respect.
But what is your problem in re-joining BJP? After all,
you have spent almost your life there.
Once I had said that I would consider re-joining the BJP if there was a collective decision in that party, both at the central and in the state units and requested me to return with a public promise and commitment that I would not be made a persona non grata after re-joining. There is no other condition. All this talk of me asking the post of Leader of Opposition in Assembly is figment of imagination. But I have realised that there is a deep division within the party whether or not to invite me. I do not want to be an unwelcome guest. There is something known as self-respect. I am a fighter and I have been fighting for some cause and principles. I would not like to compromise. There is also something like thus-far-no-further.
What if Narendra Modi asks you to re-join BJP?
It is a hypothetical question, which I would not be able to answer. I will cross the bridge when it comes. But I don’t think that situation (of re-joining) would come. But at the same time, I have an open mind to have electoral alliance with BJP also, if it is on mutually beneficial terms, which includes, protecting the interest of Karnataka on the issue of border, river water dispute and giving a fair treatment to the state.
Whom did you meet during your recent visit to Delhi? What is the outcome? It looks like that you are talking to Congress leaders also, just to convey message to the BJP.
My visit to Delhi was purely personal. I did not meet leaders of any political party. I had to meet my advocates and discuss about the status of various cases. In this age of 24X7 media alertness, is it possible to meet top leaders without the media coming to know? And, I don’t have hesitation to say openly if I had met any leader. There is no question of playing snooker and billiards, meeting somebody to convey message to someone else. I play games straight. I need not be afraid of anybody.
What is this statement of yours that you would strengthen the Third Front and your sudden love towards JD (S) leaders H.D.Deve Gowda and his sons? Is it a kind of game that you are playing?
No. I have realised that there is no such thing as permanent enemy in politics, unless of course there is strong and deep differences on ideological issues. Till now, both the national parties, Congress and BJP, have not been able to rise above party lines and get justice to Karnataka, on any issue, be it supply of fertilizers, coal or on river water dispute or even border disputes with the neighbouring states. I have been saying or rather it is my firm conviction that a strong lobby needs to play a major role to get justice for Karnataka. In that context, I had said that I would strive to strengthen the Third Front, where KJP would be able to play a lead role. KJP can play a major role only if it gains in strength in terms of number of Lok Sabha seats. In that context, I said that I was open for alliance including JD (S) with any party, solely in the interest of Karnataka.
So, you accept that KJP can gain in strength only if you have alliance with other parties.
KJP has polled 10 per cent of the votes, got six seats, is close second in 37 Assembly constituencies, and has lost by less than 6,000 votes in another 29 constituencies and in about 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. We have polled more than 10 lakh votes. This, by itself, is no mean achievement for a party of four months. This is something unprecedented in the political and electoral history of Karnataka state. In fact, going by our intrinsic strength, it is other political parties that are secretly nursing the idea of having an electoral alliance with KJP. Having said, I would also like to say that we have to accept the reality. Emotional angle and ambition are things on one side. But pragmatism and prudency are on the other side. Even the BJP gained in strength in 1989 Lok Sabha elections due to electoral adjustments being one of the main factors though there was a strong Ram temple wave. As I said earlier, there is no such thing as altruism
So then what is the status of your discussion about electoral alliance with various leaders?
Honestly, there have been no formal and official talks with any political party, including the BJP. But it is true that well-meaning friends have broached this subject of my re-joining BJP with their top leaders both in state and at the Centre. But that does not mean talks have started. It is only at the individual level. Some leaders are discussing among themselves. Nobody, either from the state or central unit has approached me. I do not hesitate to talk to anybody if it is beneficial to our party and through KJP, beneficial to the state in the long run.