Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao talks to The Indian Express on the fall of the coalition government and the road ahead for the party in the state.
Is this the end of the alliance for the Congress and JD(S)?
No, we will still coordinate in the Assembly. Whether we will fight elections or not, we don’t know. The party has to decide that. I can’t comment on that now.
For the Congress, does the end of the government mean a possibility of change, of going back to the people?
We need to regroup and take the issues to the people. In the last year, we could not, because of various issues, the Lok Sabha elections, the dissidence. We have a voter base here, we have support. Even after the Lok Sabha elections, we did well in the local body polls. So, we have to strengthen that. We will go back to people and expose these unethical, anti-democratic methods the BJP used, the fascist ideology they are pushing. Politically, we will fight. We will be a constructive opposition. We have better leaders than the BJP. We are open to new ideas and new leadership.
What is the future of the rebel MLAs?
We have nothing to do with them. We have put forth their disqualification petition. All evidence points to the fact that they should be disqualified. There will be no reconciliation… We gave them an opportunity to return even a few days back. Once we realised they were not coming back, we didn’t bother.
Congress legislator B Narayana Rao spoke in Assembly about how you cannot plant neem seeds and expect a mango tree. Is there soul-searching within the party about where you have gone wrong?
We know what went wrong. We are not talking about it publicly… The leaders who have left were creating problems. Now that they have left, it is a good…opportunity to clean up the party, make it more disciplined, build an organisation.
Increasingly, the Congress is seen as a party without a strong commitment towards any ideology. Did it make it easy to wean away your MLAs?
The BJP has become a humongous machine, which will use every trick in the book to wean away MLAs. They threaten them, blackmail them, offer them huge sums of money — Rs 30 crore and Rs 50 crore each. They will use ED, IB, everything. They have become an anti-democratic force. No party has ever done this in such a systematic way as them. We have seen governments falling due to internal instability but this is engineered to another level. This was a Rs 1,000-crore operation, using special aircraft, five-star hotels. And it has been going on for one year…Why doesn’t the media ask these questions to the BJP?