From Lokayukta appointment to Cauvery verdict of the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government has many challenges to face. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah speaks to Kannada Prabha about the good prospects for the Congress party in Karnataka and also the challenges the government is facing!

 

What are the chances of Congress retaining its position in Karnataka? Is Srinivas Prasad’s joining BJP a setback?

How can you conclude this as a setback? We have not expelled him from the party, he voluntarily left us and joined a party with a communal base (BJP). Thus he has exposed himself even to the people of Nanjanagud which will prove positive for the Congress party.

 

Srinivas Prasad has claimed that once upon a time you had a serious dialogue with BJP leader LK Advani?

I had met Advani In 1979 when I was in the Janata Party. But I have not met any leader from another party separately. Srinivas Prasad’s comments are baseless and are coming out of frustration. Legally, does any law in the Constitution prevent politicians from speaking to the leaders of other parties? I’m in good terms with the Union Minister Ananth Kumar too, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with his ideology. I have many friends in the BJP.

 

You say there is no water in River Cauvery. But why are the lawyers representing Karnataka failing in convincing the Supreme Court regarding this?

We have conveyed our facts to the Supreme Court. Our lawyers also have stated this and submitted affidavits in this regard. Even the Centre has submitted its report to the Court. Next hearing will start from February 7. Let us see what happens. I firmly believe that we will get justice.

 

There are complaints that drought relief amount released from the centre is not sufficient, have you brought this to the notice of the Centre?

There is financial injustice towards the state due to the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. For five years, we have got just ₹1500 crore as drought relief fund. Karnataka is the aridest land in the country after Rajasthan. But the centre has released more grants to Haryana and Gujarat when compared to Karnataka. Recently, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had released funds to be used in the drought situation. Despite no response from the Centre so far, I will write to the Prime Minister again in this regard.

 

Who is likely to be the next KPCC president after Dr G Parameshwara?

Well, Madam Sonia and Rahul Gandhi will finalise the name. I cannot say anything about that. However, I will recommend the names to the High Command if they ask me to.

 

BJP has chosen a Lingayat (Yeddyurappa), JDS has chosen a Vokkaliga (HD Kumaraswamy). Will you also choose someone from a particular caste?

We are not a caste or religion-oriented party like others. The entire state knows what BJP and JD(S) are. Congress is the only party in the state that has comprehensively included all people irrespective of castes and religions. The Chairman or the CM is chosen by the Congress party irrespective of his/her caste and strives for the welfare of people of all castes and religions.

 

You have selected Vishwanatha Shetty as the new Lokayukta. But activist SR Hiremath has made allegations against him?

Well, Vishwanatha Shetty has a clean record and a good background. I don’t want to react to the allegations made by SR Hiremath.

 

You oppose demonetisation. But the centre says tax collection has increased after the announcement?

Nothing can be said about demonetisation at this time. All the states in the country are facing the cash crunch and many serious problems. I will reveal the facts in my budget speech.

 

Two ministerial posts are vacant in your Cabinet, when will they be filled?

I don’t see any emergency. Currently, I will take charge of those vacant posts.