In his 5th consecutive term as a legislator from Bengaluru, RDPR Minister Krishna Byre Gowda (46) is playing a key role in ensuring the Congress wrests Bengaluru from the BJP. Bharath Joshi of DH caught up with Gowda ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Edited excerpts:
DH: How do you rate the performance of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government?
Krishna: We’ve started delivering. For Bengaluru, crucial decisions on suburban rail, Peripheral Ring Road and elevated road from Central Silk Board to Hebbal have been done. There’s also the farm loan waiver, Israeli farming methods, universal drinking water coverage and other programmes. We’re on a strong wicket going into the election.
DH: Then what explains your own party MLAs complaining that development had taken a hit?
Krishna: In Karnataka, we’ve had a culture of discretionary grants given for constituency development. The previous CM avoided this for over two years, but gave a lot of grants in final two years. That issue cropped up under this government. Subsequently, the CM has given a lot of grants to MLAs in rural areas and also in Bengaluru. But then, the baby that cries loudest gets the attention.
DH: What are the prospects for the three Bangalore seats?
Krishna: We’re hopeful of doing well in Bangalore. The Congress-JD(S) coalition has 17 MLAs out of the 28 in Bengaluru. In Bangalore South, the JD(S) has over one lakh votes and we’ll fight it out. In Bangalore Central, we’ve a good candidate and a good workers’ network. In Bangalore North, the JD(S) has sizable votes.
DH: But the Congress is finding it difficult to convince its cadre to work with the JD(S) and ensure transfer of votes.
Krishna: In Hassan, we’ve managed to settle issues to a great extent. There are still gaps in Mandya, but the patch-up will happen. We’ll also need cooperation in Mysore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur and Tumkur. One by one, we are resolving differences with the JD(S). I’d venture as far as to say that we should be able to ensure about at least 75% mutual transfer of votes. If that happens, we’re well set in 7-8 seats. But a lot of work needs to be done.
DH: What about anti-incumbency against sitting Congress MPs?
Krishna: The BJP has 16 MPs and they have been MPs for a longer period. Other than turning up the emotional quotient, they haven’t delivered on any promise. People are now raising hard questions - where are the jobs?
DH: Between 2013-18, Karnataka claimed to have created nearly 14 lakh jobs. Other states have also claimed high job creation numbers. Then how is the Centre creating joblessness?
Krishna: The PM promised two crore jobs every year. We’re only asking where those jobs are. Whatever Karnataka promised, we delivered. Karnataka has been among top two in job creation. If Karnataka had created 30 lakh jobs, perhaps we could say the PM had a role in it.