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Kumaraswamy Admits to Discontent in Congress, But Claims 'All is Well' With Coalition

In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, Kumaraswamy spoke about a range of issues, including many political aspects.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:June 26, 2018, 5:12 PM IST
Bengaluru: Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has completed one month in office in what has been a bumpy second innings after 11 years. In his first exclusive interview after taking the CM’s chair, the son of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda insists that all is well between his JD(S) and the Congress, and that coalition government will complete five years. Edited excerpts:

Q: You have completed one month as the Chief Minister and busy preparing the maiden budget of your coalition government. Please tell us about it.
HDK: Yes, our coalition has completed one month and it will complete the full term. Naturally, any new government will present its own budget after coming to power. I am also holding the finance portfolio. I have taken the budget seriously. We will present a pro-people budget. Every day I am holding several pre-budget meetings with concerned officials and ministers. All departments and ministers are requested to discuss their requirements. I am working 18 hours a day these days. I have already reviewed 25 ministries and taken their detailed feedback. Budget is not just chief minister. It involves all ministers. Our government has over 75% new ministers. Even the old ministers got different portfolios and they have different views on the budget. For example, KJ George and RV Deshpande. Even younger ones like Krishna Byregowda and UT Khader have new portfolios. Presenting a new budget is not an ego issue or a show off. It is a collective effort of the government to give something new to the people of Karnataka.

Q: But your predecessor and coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah has expressed some reservations about the budget saying that there is no need of a full-fledged budget this year?
HDK: Yes. But any new government will present its own budget. It is a new Assembly. We have more than 100 newly elected MLAs. We need to present a new budget. Our budget will be pro-people and there will be no harsh measures. People have high expectations from this government. We should be fair to all. We take everyone into confidence. All our decisions are collective.

Q: Are you saying that all is well?
HDK: Absolutely. There are no major issues. My government has taken off quiet well. All the ministers are working. They are touring the state meeting people. Only some sections in the media are speculating a lot about the stability of my government. They are blowing minor issues out of proportion.

Q: What about disgruntled MLAs in the Congress? Some of them are top leaders.
HDK: The Congress decides its names. Yes, some are unhappy. But the Congress high command is talking to them. We have 34 Cabinet berths, including that of the Chief Minister. And we have 118 MLAs. Naturally, some will be upset. Nothing serious.

Q: Is not farm loan waiver a big issue between the JDS and the Congress?
HDK: We had promised that we would waive off the entire farm loan if we were voted to power on our own. But that has not happened. It is a coalition government. I have not gone back on my words. I will keep my promise. Yesterday, I held a lengthy meeting with all stakeholders. Please wait. I will come out with a plan to help the farmers in distress. They are our top priority. I request them not to listen to propaganda and lies.

Q: Your party is being seen as a party of the farmers and villagers. How do you manage the city voters?
HDK: We want all round development of Karnataka. Both rural and urban. We are pro-farmers. But that does not mean that we are anti-urban. Deputy CM Dr G Parameshwara, who also holds the Bengaluru Development portfolio, is working on transforming Bengaluru into a much better and livelier city. We want to ease traffic congestion. We want to rejuvenate lakes. We want to keep the city clean and we will help IT and start-up sectors. The Bengaluru Metro (BMRCL) work is progressing very well. I have travelled by the Metro recently. It is truly world class. We will do much more for the state capital in the days to come.

Q: Are you sure that you will complete the full term?
HDK: Certainly. When the Congress offered support, they made it clear to us. I am not at the mercy of anyone. I am at the mercy of the people of Karnataka. Same applies to all. I was not desperate to become the chief minister. The circumstances made me chief minister again. I will work hard for the overall development of Karnataka. The people trust and love me.

Q: You met PM Modi twice in the last one month. How was the response?
HDK: Yes. PM Modi was good to me. He was responsive. Politics is different from the governance. The PM has promised us full support. He praised my father and his knowledge. I am sure he won’t discriminate against Karnataka.

Q: What about Congress president Rahul Gandhi?
HDK: Rahul Gandhi has given me a free hand. No interference at all. In fact he was the one who made this coalition government possible. I respect him and madam Soniaji.

Q: BS Yeddyurappa met Amit Shah in Ahmedabad on Monday. It seems he is still hoping for a return?
HDK: You should ask him that question, not me. As far as we are concerned, we are stable. I request the people not to believe rumours.

Q: What about your father?
HDK: My father has vast political and administrative experience. He has been an MLA and MP since 1962. He guides me. But he won't interfere. He runs the party. I run the government.

Q: What about the Lok Sabha elections 2019? You recently backed Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
HDK: We will fight together. Let's discuss the details closer to elections. I had gone to Arvind Kejriwal’s house just to express our solidarity with him. There is nothing political about it. An elected chief minister sitting in dharna at the Lt. Governor’s house was unprecedented. That’s it.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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