Mallikarjun Kharge, Not Son: Deve Gowda Looks Back At Chief Minister Pick

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said he had reservations about his son HD Kumaraswamy becoming the Chief Minister of Karnataka following the alliance with the Congress last year.

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The former Prime Minister was critical of what he felt were attempts to destroy the opposition.


Bengaluru: 

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda told NDTV today that he had reservations about his son HD Kumaraswamy becoming the Chief Minister of Karnataka following the alliance with the Congress after last year's assembly elections. The post, he said, it should have gone to a Congress leader - Mallikarjun Kharge or G Parameswara, who later became his son's deputy. 

Recalling his attempts to discourage the Congress from making his son the chief minister, he said, "After the fractured (assembly poll) verdict, the Congress approached me to make my son the Chief Minister. I told them it wasn't right - we had 37 MLAs while the Congress had 79".

"I thought Kharge or even Parameshwara or Muniyappa of the Congress could be Chief Minister. I told them about Kumaraswamy's health background, but Ghulam Nabi Azad said this was Sonia Gandhi's decision that Kumaraswamy should be chief minister," he added.

The former Prime Minister was back on the job at the Janata Dal party office in Bengaluru a day after his son, HD Kumaraswamy's coalition government lost a trust vote in the Karnataka assembly on Tuesday.

When NDTV met him at his residence, he said he was not shocked by the recent political developments in the state. "I have seen everything!" he said, laughing. "I have no anxiety. I had none the day before yesterday either."

But some of the events that led up to the resignation of Mr Kumaraswamy certainly did upset him.

"For the first time, nearly 15 people were taken to Mumbai... Two cabinet ministers from Bangalore were not allowed to meet these rebels by the BJP government in Maharashtra. Where is the democracy?" he said.

Mr Deve Gowda also said he believed that it would not be easy for a BJP government to survive if it is formed at this point in the state.

"We had 99 votes - one was in hospital. The BSP MLA says there was a miscommunication, which is why he was absent," he said. While the disqualification of the rebels will be the Speaker's decision, if all are disqualified, the BJP would end up with 106 lawmakers.

"See what happened in Madhya Pradesh. Two BJP MLAs voted in favour of Congress," he said, referring to yesterday's cross-voting in the state assembly by two BJP legislators who were former Congressmen. "As per the present strength (in the Karnataka assembly), it is difficult for a BJP government. Two or three MLAs could make a difference."

The role of the Speaker is of course crucial at this stage, with many waiting to see what he decides on the resignations submitted by the 15 legislators.

"The matter is between the Speaker and the Supreme Court. The court has given him a free hand. I have confidence in the Speaker.  I hope and trust this will be one of the decisions from our Speaker to plug all loopholes of 10th schedule. In future, such horse trading would not be there," Mr Deve Gowda said. 

The former Prime Minister was critical of what he felt were attempts to destroy the opposition.

"Prime Minister Modi says 'Congress-free Bharat'. If that happens, the whole system will collapse," he said. "You can see in the last two months - they want to destroy Congress and regional parties using political power. It is inevitable that it is one man's government."

Despite the collapse of the government and the dismal performance in the recent Lok Sabha election -- where each party won just one seat each in the state -- the coalition between his Janata Dal Secular and the Congress was intact, he said.

Mr Gowda, who lost from the Tumakuru seat after surrendering his safe seat of Hassan to his grandson, Prajwal, said he would now have time to work for his party.  "We are the only regional party in Karnataka," he said.



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