‘Bhardwaj is a Congress politician, not a Governor’

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Karnataka BJP chief KS Eshwarappa tells Kunal Majumder that the state CM had an attitude problem but has mended his ways

KS Eshwarappa
Photo: Bangalore News Photo

The Supreme Court has pointed out in its judgment how Karnataka Speaker KG Bopaiah made a mistake in disqualifying 16 rebel MLAs. Now, the Congress alleges that he followed instructions from the BJP’s central leadership. Shouldn’t he resign on moral grounds?
In the high court, the Speaker’s decision was upheld but the Supreme Court had an alternative opinion. The apex court observed that the procedure followed by the Speaker is not correct. It didn’t say anything against the action or the intention of the Speaker. Procedural lapse can’t be termed illegal. Anyway, we have welcomed the judgment.

The rebel MLAs are now supporting your party and chief minister. What transpired after their disqualification on 10 October 2010 that made them change their heart?
Actually, they are good MLAs. Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy misled them. They were promised money and Cabinet posts. Now they clearly understood that they were misguided by Kumaraswamy and thus they accept the leadership of Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa.

Governor HR Bhardwaj has cited the Supreme Court ruling to recommend President’s rule in Karnataka. While constitutional experts have rubbished his move, don’t you think the level of politics in the state has reached a new low?
Karnataka politics hasn’t reached a new low, but the position taken by the Governor has. The day he came to Karnataka, he said, “I’m a Congressman.” So, from that day, he has been engaged in political activities. He is not interested in doing his duty as the Governor. He is a politician, not a Governor. That’s why we are all condemning his position.

Even if Bhardwaj was acting at the behest of the Congress, how do you justify the blackmailing by the Reddy brothers or the infighting within BJP or political opportunism by independent MLAs. Isn’t it time the BJP got rid of Yeddyurappa?
First of all, no one is bigger than the party. I agree the chief minister has made some mistakes. We told him about his mistakes on his face. We don’t do backbiting nor do we stab him in his back. Whenever the CM made a mistake, some MLA or the other has pointed it out and asked him to rectify it. It is a wrong perception that many people are against Yeddyurappa. There is a difference of opinion but we are a democratic party and we have a right to have different views. There has been some attitude problem. We have pointed it out to Yeddyurappa and he has changed.

You have accused the JDS and the Congress of trying to destabilise your government. But isn’t it the BJP that started poaching MLAs from the Opposition parties?
This is absolutely incorrect. We have never approached any MLA of the JD(S) or the Congress. They came to us as they realised that they have no future in those parties. We are a political party and open to whoever wants to join us. They are good people in politics and we have accepted them in our fold. The Congress and JDS have no control over their MLAS, that is why they are willing to join the BJP.

Since 2008, when Yeddyurappa formed the first BJP government in the south, we have seen horse trading, political blackmail and corruption charges. It has been the complete opposite of what the BJP promised during the election. What is wrong with the state unit of the party?
For the past 35 years, Yeddyurappa has built the party in the state. We faced some problems due to his negative attitude. However, he has changed and there is no problem now.

Kunal Majumder is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
[email protected]

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