P Muralidhar Rao, BJP general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, speaks to Liz Mathew about the developments in Karnataka and what lies ahead for the BJP. Excerpts:
What is the BJP’s next move?
Now that the government has fallen, we will be waiting to see what the governor does. Based on that we will take directions from the national president on our options and exact formulation of our strategy.
How do you see the developments? Do you think H D Kumaraswamy could have avoided stretching the crisis?
We have been, from the beginning, saying it is an unholy alliance (between Congress and JD-S). It was an alliance of conflicting and competing vote base, there was internal contradiction from the beginning. We have been saying it would not survive and today it has become a reality. It was an alliance formed on a negative agenda to keep BJP away. I would call it good riddance. People of Karnataka are freed from the misrule and de-focussed government. Now point is that 15 MLAs had resigned, parties indulged in pretence and exhibitionism while making allegations that BJP was behind it. They have not accepted the directives of the governor, they have subverted the Supreme Court order. Today they exhausted all options and could not find a reason to continue. Naturally BJP is the next claimant with majority on its side in the reduced House. We will be looking to take the responsibility, and follow the directions of our national president and parliamentary board.
Did the SC order on no whip help the BJP?
The order helped democracy in Karnataka. Naturally, we were on the side of Save Democracy movement. The kind of horse-trading the Congress was trying could not happen. D K Shivakumar was trying with everything he had, but failed.
When Congress and JD (S) alleged that MLAs were paid money, there was no denial from the BJP. Why?
Entire Karnataka has come to know that due to certain issues inside, the MLAs resigned. They appeared before Speaker, filed affidavits in SC. When their counsel was arguing for them, the world came to know the situation. There was no need to explain more.
Who will be the Chief Minister?
CM candidate will be decided by parliamentary board. We have B S Yeddyurappa as leader of our party and we had sought mandate under his leadership. Taking all factors into consideration, the leadership will take a decision.
The 75-year-old age limit is not applied to him?
There is no such constitutionally stated position in the BJP.
Will you take the rebel MLAs with you and offer them ministerial posts?
The decision will be taken by the national president in consultation with the state party leadership.
BJP always take a high moral ground on issues like this but how does this gel with image you project as a party with a difference, especially with the Congress’ allegations?
You know it (allegations) was a Congress mudslinging activity. BJP continues with the position that it is a party with a difference. We are working in a context, not in vacuum. In that context, whatever keeps BJP above board, we will have to evolve pragmatic strategies.
What will be the status of the rebel MLAs?
The Supreme Court had given the Speaker to decide about resignation. There is a constitutional process for it. We have to examine the status. There are many technicalities involved.
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