Thursday, 27 November 2014

Congress will come back in 2019: Siddaramaiah........

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is up beat despite the many problems he and his party are facing. Excerpts from an interview:
When will the Congress bounce back to its old strength? 

We'll come back in 2019. The antiincumbency factor did the Congress in as it was in power for the past 10 years. The Congress failed in the 2014 elections not because of its poor performance, but due to its failure to communicate with the people proper ly on the work it had done. I'm confident the Congress will bounce back in 2019 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised many things which are not possible to achieve. He made big promises of bringing black money back in 100 days. What happened? It was euphoria created about him. 

The Congress government in Karnataka also seems to have failed to live up to people's expectations with activists like H S Doreswamy voicing their disappointment? 

Where has Doreswamy said he's not happy with the government? We have fulfilled 60% of the promises made in the manifesto in one and a half years. The government acted on the AT Ramaswamy committee report on encroachments and two deputy commissioners have been appointed for Bengaluru Urban district to look into the matter. The Ramaswamy report was submitted during the BJP regime but it didn't do anything about it. 

Do you see any threat from your Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, who has been aggressive in getting investments? 

There's no threat from Naidu. I don't know how such news emanates. Automobile company Hero Motocorp went to Andhra Pradesh even though we gave whatever conces sions it asked. Except for HeroMotocorp, no other company has exited. Andhra Pradesh is a new state and the Centre is giving packages and concessions to such new states. Besides, I've also told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that concessions and packages to new states leads to unhealthy competition. 

Or is it that Modi and Naidu have better marketing skills and are active on social media? 

That's not 

Do you think Bengaluru's image has taken a drubbing in the past couple of years? 

All the promises which the previous BJP government made of improving the city have remained only on paper. In its five-year term, they did nothing to improve roads or created any infrastructure. 

How will Bengaluru's garbage problem be resolved? 

By June, there will be waste processing plants in all areas which will convert garbage into gas or manure. I had set a deadline of December 1 to stop dumping of garbage in Mandur and this was done 10 days ahead of it. The government has thought of giving a new look to Bengaluru and some of it has been spelt out in the new industrial policy for 2014-2019 true. Does Modi himself tweet? He has a group which does it. I too tweet about my programmes. 

Former minister Santosh Lad was asked to step down in November 2013 over the mining issue ahead of the Belagavi legislature session. Now, some of your ministers are facing charges of land grab... 

Lad was not asked to resign, he volunteered to quit. In the case of food & civil supplies minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, he didn't buy the land as an MLA. His father bought the land in 1982 and Dinesh has written a letter to the A T Ramaswamy committee that it can be taken back. Dinesh has not misused his powers or done anything wrong. This was not the case when BJP was in power. An FIR was filed against R Ash oka, while KS Eshwarap pa's ho use was raided. Both were deputy CMs, and a chargesheet was filed against V Somanna. None of them resigned. What moral right do they have to question us, and that too on false allegations? 

So, all these allegations of ministers being corrupt or inefficient are just allegations and nobody will be dropped? 

All my ministers are efficient, but that doesn't mean I won't drop or reshuffle some of them. 

As a leader, is there any challenge left for you? 

The challenge is to give justice to the oppressed. I'm going firmly in that direction. My party is committed to social justice for the backward classes, scheduled castes and tribes. For this, I've increased the budget outlay for the social sector. 

Do appointments to boards and corporations require the high command's approval? 

That is not correct. The high command only gives a formal approval, while the list of names is prepared by the state leadership. 

Do you see yourself as being the most powerful CM in the party with more free dom to function as Karnataka is the last major state to be ruled by the party? 

Who said I've become powerful? I'm just doing my job. There's no such thing as being powerful. In the past one and a half years as CM, not once has the high command interfered. This is just not with me but also with my predecessors too. The high com mand doesn't interfere in ad ministration. 

Were you able to tell AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi that he needs to be more aggressive in his approach at your last meeting? 

I told him he should be more ag gressive and meet people. He smiled and said, `I will do it'.