Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Karnataka State President Shri B S Yeddyurappa is leading his party into the vigorously contested Assembly election in the State. The present Congress Government’s tenure is scheduled to end in a month’s time. The Siddaramaiah Government contemplates on re-election suggesting that it delivered and fulfilled its promises. However, the Opposition, particularly the BJP is targeting the Government for its failure on all fronts of governance and administration. In this light, Shri Yeddyurappa spoke to Organiser Bengaluru Bureau team of Guruprasad and Prashanth Vaidyaraj in a detailed interview. He spoke on the issues plaguing the State, failures of Siddaramaiah’s Government, deteriorating law & order, agrarian crisis in the State and his overall vision for Karnataka. Excerpt:
What are the issues that the people of Karnataka are facing today? Do you think that the Congress Government-led by Siddaramaiah has delivered on its promises?
I have travelled across the 224 constituencies of the State. I don’t think anyone else has travelled so widely for 11,000 km and for 85 days. I have addressed about 1.75 crore people directly. During this tour, I tried to understand the issues which people are facing. Irrigation is a burning problem in the State today. When Congress came to power, they had promised to spend 10,000 crore on irrigation projects. They were supposed to spend 50,000 crore in these 5 years. In reality they have spent only about 8,500 crore. The incomplete status of Krishna River basin projects showcases this. In contrast, we declared that we would be spending 1 lakh crore for irrigation, that too in front of our Prime Minister. Our focus will be on providing sufficient water to farmer’s lands, provide scientifically decided rates to the crops the farmer grows, and compensate them when the crop fails or is destroyed. PM Modi has already declared that one and a half time the market price will be given for the crops. This is a boon for the farmers. Our priority is farmers and their problems.
What, according to you, are the main issues on which people will vote in Karnataka elections this time?
There are several aspects on which people will vote in the coming elections. Firstly, the performance of the Central government under PM Modi is beyond expectations, and people are full of appreciation. Secondly, our own performance when we governed the State is why people will vote for us. People love and respect Modi ji irrespective of caste and religion. PM Modi works on Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas model while we too had followed Sarvarigoo Samapaalu, Sarvarigoo Samabalu (Equal share for all, Equal life for all) model. We had also extended many facilities to the farmers and for people from all castes and religions to ensure social justice for all. Be it ‘Bhagyalakshmi Scheme’, free pump sets for farmers, loans for farmers without any interest, ‘Suvarna Grama’ and ‘Suvarna Bhoomi’ schemes, bicycle for children and many other pro-people schemes. People remember this and have appreciated our efforts.
And lastly, the present Government which is ending its 5 year term is completely bankrupt. Development has collapsed! People are living in distress today. Killings, extortion are rampant in an unprecedented manner. 3,700 farmers have committed suicide which never happened before. The Government itself in a reply in the Assembly stated that there have been 7,748 killings in the State and there are 9,981 cases of attacks on Dalits. Also, there are 7,781 rape cases. 24 Hindu youth activists have been murdered. In Tripura, 9 Hindu youths were killed and the people showed exit door to Manik Sarkar. There would be a repetition here. These are the reasons we believe that we will win more than 150 seats. Many people didn’t believe that BJP will win in Uttar Pradesh but that was disproved. Similarly, we will win in 150 seat which is also the target set by PM Modi and Amit Shah ji and it is our target too. This is not a fancy number but one that people will bless us with and hence we believe that we will cross 150 seats at any cost.
Central Government has been granting huge sums of money for various schemes like Anna Bhagya, Anila Bhagya, etc. But CM Siddaramaiah takes all the credit and attempts to hijack central schemes. How do you plan to educate people on this while campaigning?
We have been communicating to people from every stratum that Anna Bhagya scheme is PM Modi’s scheme. The rice is procured for Rs 32 per Kg and made available at Rs 3; wheat is purchased for Rs 22 per Kg and sold at Rs 2. Siddaramiah has been claiming that this is his project but we are conveying the truth to the people.
Siddaramaiah showcases these projects as their own in the advertisements. They have spent Rs 190 crore on advertisements alone. This is people’s money. We are educating people on facts. We have also submitted to the Centre that more advertisements to this effect have to be released more frequently to inform people.
Central Government has provided for many other schemes. For example, as per the Fourteenth Finance Commission, the Central Government has given more than 2 lakh Crore, while the State used to receive only about 65-70,000 crore earlier. Siddaramaiah has made a loan of 2 lakh crore but there is no sign of any genuine development. In 2017-18, 60-70per cent of the total outlay is still unspent. Elections will be declared anytime and he cannot spend it. Irrigation has been neglected, SC/ST’s welfare, education too has been neglected and the government has not shown any interest in any field.
Will you institute an enquiry to probe into misuse of people’s money?
No doubt about it. We will investigate into this and will not forgo any misuse of public money. They say they are No. 1 State. What are they No. 1 in? Is it in corruption? Is it No. 1 in deterioration of law & order or in rising cases of atrocities against women? Law and order is one of the primary duties of a State Government. They have neglected law and order and have given importance only to optics.
More than 20 BJP and Sangh karyakartas have been killed during this regime. Politics of violence practised by CPI (M) in Kerala has made routes in Karnataka as well. Who is responsible for this and how will BJP plan to counter this if it comes to power?
In 2015, Siddaramaiah’s government withdrew 175 cases filed against Popular Front of India (PFI). I have said openly that he is ‘Hindu Virodhi Sultan Siddaramaiah’. People of the State never wished for Tipu Jayanti but it was organised by force. Such exercises are organised to shift attention away from their failures. On the other hand, people cannot celebrate Hanuman Jayanti or Vivekananda Jayanti without interruption and anxiety. We have never witnessed such a scenario in our State before. In a way, our State has gone back by 10 years in terms of development.
When we return, we will take strong action against such elements and if needed ban them. They are doing it only for the sake of pandering to their vote banks and minority appeasement. We are for the minority welfare but against the politics of appeasement. I observed one-month long ‘Satyagraha’ over this Government’s ‘Shadi Bhagya’ scheme to demand extending the scheme to eligible people from all communities and not one religion alone. We are not against any religion but strive for social justice to people from all communities.
When you were the Chief Minister, you had demanded a survey to be done of all temples which come under the Muzrai department, gazette it with the aim of safeguarding our temples and its properties. This work has been stopped and nothing is being done in this regard.
Not only that, nothing is progressing in any department. Our job is to continue our previous projects and we will do it. Karnataka has immense potential for tourism as compared to other states. I had initiated several projects to give tourism a boost.
The Police are not free from political interference. Even honest IAS officers are transferred which is causing huge problems in administration and implementation of law and order. How do you view this?
Transfer of officials has become a racket under this government. This has ensured that no official is sure of his/her posting and work place. Important places are given to officials from a particular community and all others are neglected. Hence, the officials are demoralised and administration has completely collapsed. We had never witnessed such a sad state of affairs.
There are many honest officers but the CM is not taking them into confidence. Honest officers are not allowed to work. This is the main reason for the collapse of law and order in the State. Home Ministry is ineffective and has been unable to solve many murders including those of MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. Innocents are being apprehended only to hide government’s incompetence.
There are reports of attempts to include fake voters in different parts of the State which are seen as BJP strong holds. How does the party plan to tackle this?
This has been happening for quite some time and it is an organised effort which involves even the Ministers and Officials. We have been alert and have complained to the Election Commission. We are verifying the voters’ list in such places. We are doing all that is possible to tackle this menace.
Congress is using Mahadayi issue to pin BJP in North Karnataka. How are you planning to tackle this and convince people that BJP can find a solution under your leadership?
Regarding Mahadayi issue, there are several facts that need to be told. The issue is the ‘illegitimate offspring’ of Congress. It was Sonia Gandhi who had said that not a drop of water will be given to Karnataka. It was the Goa Government under Congress and the Manmohan Singh Government who concluded that the issue cannot be solved through talks and approached the Supreme Court (SC). The SC then constituted the tribunal. Hence it is evident that the issue was given birth by the Congress itself.
The tribunal is on the verge of arriving at a final decision. The issue could have been solved through talks. Goa CM Manohar Parikkar had written a letter to me indicating the same. Siddaramaiah created confusion over it. We had categorically said that we will convince the CM of Goa and proposed Congress to talk to Goa Congress which is the principal opposition and convince them not to object. We could have found a solution outside the tribunal within 24 hours. Siddaramaiah did not make any effort to do something in this regard maybe because Sonia Gandhi did not wish to see the issue being resolved. Moreover, neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi spoke on the Mahadayi issue whenever they came to Karnataka.
Do you think that the farmers and people of North Karnataka are convinced that the issue was given birth by the Congress?
Yes, the people have been convinced of the same and we will continue to communicate with them. We have also assured that we will solve the issue as soon as we come to power in Karnataka.
CM Siddaramaiah has been constantly attacking you and PM Modi in every rally. Why, do you think, he is doing so?
Siddaramaiah abuses everyone. He thinks that by attacking PM Modi he grows in stature which is foolish of him. People have noticed this and are castigating Siddaramaiah’s attitude. He targets me as he fears me. When all the courts, including the High Court have exonerated me in all the false cases, he keeps repeating the same old lies. He should be told that even Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are out on bail. Such attitude only shows his insecurity.
What is your stand on the Kannada flag issue?
There is a Kannada flag already and nobody has opposed it. It is a needless issue raked up to divert people’s attention.
The Lingayat panel has recommended for a separate religion tag. The panel was given six months but the report was prepared in two months and given to the Government. It seems to be in haste before elections. How will BJP counter this?
Similar to the Kannada flag issue, they have tried to create confusion among Veerashaiva and Lingayats. The president of the Akhil Bharateeya Veerashaiva Mahasabha himself has declared that both Veerashaiva’s and Lingayats are one. Even Shivakumara Swamy has said that both are one and the same. For us, his words are of the highest authority. It is also the stand of the BJP.
Siddaramaiah thinks that by preparing a report in haste and sending it to Delhi, he can claim it as an achievement. This is just to hoodwink and not aimed to uplift any community. This is purely driven by selfish politics and a step to drive a wedge between caste and communities in the state.
The Karnataka Government schools have ample space and play grounds but lack in infrastructure, teachers and modern equipment. In Tamil Nadu, many government schools and infrastructure are on par with the private institutions. What are your plans to upgrade the infrastructure in government schools and colleges?
The teachers have to be given proper training. Today, teachers don’t wish to stay in rural areas. They wish to serve in Taluk centres and cities. We should ensure that the teachers are provided proper facilities so that they stay in rural areas. I am sure that the people in rural areas will extend all co-operations to them. Just as in Tamil Nadu, we too have to upgrade our government schools to higher standards.
Lastly, what is your overall vision for the State?
My first priority is the farmer. The farmer has to lead his life in peace. Providing adequate irrigation for the farmers’ needs is our goal. Our farmers should receive at least 12 hours of uninterrupted power supply for their pump sets. We have a large section of the society which belongs to the SC/ST communities. We have to ensure that they are given their due and justice is delivered to them. My dream is to have a ‘Slum Mukta’ Karnataka. In education sector, facilities have to be improved. We have to upgrade Government schools and colleges so that those who go for private institutions, should prefer Government institutions. Similarly, people don’t prefer Government run hospitals as they were neglected by this government throughout its tenure. We also need to give huge impetus to tourism in the state which will also address the rising unemployment issue in the state.
Large sums were given to Karnataka for improving the highways and roads. Nothing much was done in the last 5 years. Along with development of roads, we also wish to bring in suburban rail to de-congest the city and help the commuters. Metro rail has to be expanded further. Development of lakes and ponds will be another priority of our government.