Udayavni Special

Mahagathbandhan a non-starter, regional parties wary of Cong: S M Krishna


Team Udayavani, Apr 1, 2019, 10:16 AM IST

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Bengaluru: The ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) has become a non-starter, with most regional parties refusing to join hands with the Congress, says BJP leader S M Krishna.

The regional parties fear that they would not achieve their goals if they ally with the Congress, he said.

A former Congress veteran who joined the BJP earlier this month, Krishna exuded confidence that the saffron party alone will win enough seats to form the government and those of its allies will be a bonus.

“Mahagathbandhan was Mamata Banerjee’s idea. Now, what is the relationship between Mamata and Rahul Gandhi? The TMC and the Congress refuse to see eye to eye,” Krishna told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“In Uttar Pradesh, the SP and the BSP refused to take the Congress into the reckoning by giving it two seats. So, where is the ‘gathbandhan’? When there is no ‘gathbandhan’, where is the question of ‘mahagathbandhan’? It is a mockery,” he said.

“Most of the regional parties are wary of the Congress as they suspect they would not be able to realise their goals by joining hands with it,” he added.

Asked about the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress alliance in Karnataka, Krishna said it is “not working” as there is hardly any chemistry between the partners.

“The JD(S)-Congress alliance has no agenda except to cling on to power and share the spoils thereof,” he said.

“This (bitterness) is also evident in Tumakuru constituency, from where the JD(S) supremo (H D Deve Gowda) is contesting. The Congress might have succeeded in withdrawing nomination of rebel Congress candidate, (but) the bitterness still exists,” the former Karnataka chief minister added.

Responding to a question, Krishna said the BJP will return to power because of the good work done by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government and due to its corruption-free five years.

“We will get enough seats to form the government. The BJP itself will win (enough seats), plus the bonus coming from our allies,” he said.

“I cannot talk about the number of seats we will win because the first phase is yet to take place, but we are extremely confident on the basis of our work in the last five years and having provided a scam-free administration,” he said, adding that Modi deserves a second term.

Krishna denied that the issue of unemployment would affect the BJP’s prospects in the Lok Sabha polls.

“I think with Narendra Modi coming back for a second term, he will make efforts to address this issue to people’s satisfaction,” he said, adding that no political party has a magic wand to address the problem.

Krishna dubbed the Congress’s proposed minimum income guarantee scheme, Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) an “empty promise”.

“I have also dealt with the finances of the country as minister of state for finance during Congress rule. It is an empty promise, for the Congress has not given any details of funding aspect. I don’t believe what Rahul Gandhi has been saying is being taken very seriously by political analysts,” he said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced last week that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to the poorest 20 per cent families of the country if his party is voted to power in the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11.

On the Rafale deal controversy, Krishna said, “Initially some doubts were placed before us, but they have not been substantiated. So it has died a natural death.”

He commended the Modi government for finalising the deal.

The former external affairs minister also claimed that during the UPA rule, the defence ministry never sent a proposal for buying Rafale jets to the Cabinet Committee on Security.

“Unfortunately, during those years, when I was in UPA government, the proposition (Rafale purchase) never came up before us because it was not moved by the defence ministry,” he said.

The Congress has criticised the new Rafale deal signed by the Modi government, claiming it is costlier and there is corruption involved. The government has denied any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.

Asked to comment on opposition parties seeking proof of Balakot air strikes, Krishna said it shows their frustration.

“The armed forces are not affiliated to any political party. We have to respect them. One way to respect them is to salute them and say that you have done well rather than asking for the count of bodies,” the former Union minister said.

Krishna asserted that the air strikes were the right response to “Pakistan’s intransigence” and praised the Modi government for the decision.

“In spite of Modi making wonderful gestures towards Pakistan in the beginning of his tenure, Pakistan, unfortunately, did not talk on the same page,” he said.

Indian Air Force fighter jets had bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad’s training camp near Balakot in Pakistan following an attack in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Krishna criticised remarks of Congress leader B K Hariprasad wherein he had alleged that “match-fixing” between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan had led to the Pulwama attack.

“The levelling of these allegations has given a handle, not only to Pakistan, but also to nations who are friendly with it. This has helped them make a case against Indian interests. I think it is sheer nonsense,” he said.

The remarks, Krishna said, are reflective of “degeneration” of political discourse.

Hariprasad’s comments, which he had made during an interaction with reporters here on March 7, had sparked a controversy and drawn the BJP’s condemnation.

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