DK Shivakumar, the Congress’ troubleshooter-in-chief in Karnataka, has endeared himself to the party even more over the past week by ensuring that the party’s MLAs stuck togetherand did not defect. In an interview, Shivakumar tells Vikram Gopalthat the party must now respect the sentiments of its workers in the Old Mysuru region and how hard it has been for them to accept the Congress-JD(S) alliance. Edited excerpts:
This is the third time you have come through for your party when it was in trouble. Are you now the party’s most trusted leader in Karnataka?
It wasn’t just me. But, everybody cannot do everything. Political management… not everybody can do that. With my 35 years of experience, I won the seventh consecutive elections, I have some experience in speaking to MLAs and knowing their problems and keeping them united.
Last time you helped the Congress, there was a raid by the Income Tax department. Are you worried that something similar could happen now?
Anything is possible. There might not be an income tax raid because that is over, but a lot of trouble may arise…
One of the highlights of the floor test was whether MLA Anand Singh would appear for the trust vote. Can you tell us how you managed to convince him?
From the beginning I have been saying that he is a Congressman. I know him personally, and I was also responsible for bringing him to the Congress (from the Bharatiya Janata Party). Even when he was in the BJP, we were friends… But I spoke to him and he sent a message (on Saturday) and we were able to keep the flock together…
Why do you think your party fared so badly in this election, considering nobody saw an anti-incumbency wave?
I admit our numbers were very bad, especially in the Vokkaliga belt. I had warned my party leaders also that this was about to happen and that we should be very cautious. But we were also overconfident.
You are seen as someone who has challenged HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy in the past. How do you feel about the current coalition?
It is a very, very hard decision, because our workers have fought like great warriors in Ramanagara, Channapatna, Mandya, Mysuru and Hassan. In all these places, they have fought hard, but now we are trying to sail together, and that has hurt a lot of them, including my family. A lot of cases were booked against my family under Kumaraswmy’s government. But, in the national interest, our personal interests cannot come to the fore. So my ego also has to be kept away in the national interest and the party’s interests…
Many Congress workers have demanded that you should become the state party chief. What is your feeling?
The time is not ripe now. There was a time when (such a decision) would have changed the political scene of Karnataka, but that has gone now.