“No Force On This Earth Can Destroy Congress”
“Church Street Bomb Blast is an aberration; State continues to be a safe destination for investments and tourists,” Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah asserted, while speaking to S A Hemantha Kumar, in Bengaluru. He also maintained that the response of the state government in general and the police in particular in the aftermath of the blast on New Year Eve was thoroughly professional, quick and appropriate. “Look at the gusto with which the New Year was celebrated by the youngsters, not only in Bengaluru but throu-ghout the state. There has been no single untoward incident, which goes on to prove that we had taken all measures to prevent any mishaps,” the chief minister said.
You have been in power for the last 20 months. Can you name three major achievements?
There is stability on all the four fronts—political, social, economic and law & order—which are pre-requisites for any state to make progress. Except for a few unfortunate incidents of rape in some schools, there has been peace and tranquility. Church street bomb blast on New Year eve was an aberration but the police have been quick in taking appropriate steps to prevent any further incidents. Even in the cases of rapes in certain schools, the education and police departments have initiated action as per the law.
But what about the progress?
The Rice Scheme—Re one per kg of rice to BPL card holders is a great success. Likewise, providing incentive for milk producers is a big achievement which has economically empowered women in the rural areas. Similarly, we have constructed hostels for Backward Classes, SCs/STs and minorities, both for boys and girls which has benefitted millions of families belonging to the weaker section of society. There are many, which make for an exhaustive list, if I go by department-wise.
But what about the BJP’s criticism?
Is there any credibility left in the BJP after their leaders were accused of indulging in corrupt practices? We do not have to learn from the BJP which has ruined the state, due to their sectarian agenda, mal-administration and economic mis-management. Inspite of providing rice at Re one per kg to BPL card holders, I have managed the economy with such a fine balance, there is no financial indiscipline. That is what we call economic prudence. Not like what the BJP did, spending money indiscriminately on populist schemes without any substantial returns.
In the aftermath of Church street bomb blast, you had spoken of modernising the police force and strengthening the intelligence machinery. Can you elaborate on those two issues?
Modernisation is a process and not an end in itself. It is essentially to equip the police with modern weapons, for which the Centre has assured to provide necessary assistance. It is also the question of improving the training skills of those who are involved in dealing with terrorist-related issues. Intelligence wing is the cutting edge for any police force to be effective.
You have spoken of having a separate Intelligence Cadre? What exactly you mean by that?
Intelligence gathering is a cumbersome and painstaking exercise. It involves a lot of home work. There is a need for continuity and consistency in the working arrangement of those involved in intelligence wing. Personnel need to cultivate contacts in order to ferret out information; collate and analyse the information so gathered and convert it into actionable intelligence information so that the security forces are given precise and specific input for them to come out with an action plan. Sometimes due to transfers of personnel from intelligence wing to other wings the work suffers. So, I have suggested to my officers to explore the possibility of having an exclusive intelligence cadre to ensure consistency and continuity in the functioning of the intelligence wing. Alternative, I have also told the officers to see if there can be an amendment to the Cadre and Recruitment Rules to make it mandatory and compulsory for the police of all ranks to serve in the Intelligence Wing for a specific period. Let me see. I am chairing a meeting on this issue shortly. All that I can say is that the state government is vigilant to the threat posed by anti-social and terrorist elements.
It is being said that the going is smooth for Siddaramaiah because there is no dissidence activity and more over the Opposition is not so substantially caustic? Your comment.
Administration is going on in smooth way. I have taken all the MLAs into confidence and attending to the needs of their constituencies. The process of nominations to boards and corporations has already started with the guidance of the high command. The internal affairs of the party are being looked after by the KPCC President and the High Command. I am concentrating on governance. In this background, where is the question of dissidence. Every minister and legislators are cooperating with me.
The absence of dissidence is due to the fact that High Command is weak following series of defeats?
I do not agree with you. Congress high command does not become weak, no matter what the election results are. Party supremo and central leadership continue to enjoy the command of the party workers. The intrinsic strength of the Congress and its command structure is so unique that there is no question of either the party or the high command becoming weak. If anyone thinks like that, it is foolhardiness. You will see for yourself the party on comeback trail, reviving itself with new energy.
What is the basis for your confidence?
As I said, the intrinsic strength and work culture of the Congress which is tested by time. We will bounce back. Moreover, the people have seen through the gimmick of the BJP. Already slips are showing in the BJP regime headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The very same people who showed their support to Modi are now repenting. I will not be surprised if their latent anger manifests and becomes a nation-wide movement. Then the BJP will have no place to hide in the entire country.
Your comment on the remark made by the BJP President Amit Shah about Congress-mukt Karnataka?
No force on this earth can destroy Congress. And we do not want to hear anything from a person like Amit Shah.