The Ramakrishna Hegde Chat
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:16 IST)
Hello Everybody! I'm here, a little late, but absolutely ready for your questions.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:19 IST)
I'm late due to a hectic spate of campaigning, on the last day of the last leg of campaigning which ended this evening at Kolar.
Meena (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:9 IST)
How many seats will the Lok Shakti win in Karnataka? Can you name them? What about the BJP?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:24 IST)
Dear Meena: The BJP-Lok Shakti will win at least 20 seats out of 28. This is a realistic assessment.
Amit (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:12 IST)
Why aren't you contesting the elections? Is it because you are afraid you are going to lose once again?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:26 IST)
Dear Amit: No, I'm not afraid of losing. I'm still a member of the Rajya Sabha and still have four-and-a-half years of my tenure left. If I win at the Lok Sabha I have to resign from the Rajya Sabha and that seat will be lost to the party. Because, in a by-election, the election is by simple majority.
Aakriti (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:23 IST)
Mr.Hegde: what's has been the affect of Sonia's campaign in Karnataka ?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:28 IST)
Dear Akriti: If at all, Sonia has an effect on our campaigning, is only marginal. At her meetings, people are brought. It is out of curiosity that people attend. But I don't think her speeches will have any positive effect. People do not know Sonia Gandhi and she also does not know the people of this country. Therefore there cannot be a rapport.
common man (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:11 IST)
Mr. Hegde, considering that at election time you are only five minutes late, you have really kept up time very well ! But first of all let me congratulate you on your alliance with BJP. No matter what your detractors say, I really appreciate you for this move. What I am worried about is the post-poll scenario. Do you continue to support the BJP in case they fall short of majority or will you be like another CPI-M, using the situation for your own advantage?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:30 IST)
Dear Common Man: No party including the BJP will get a majority by itself in this election. And therefore, I have been suggesting that it is better to have coalition before the elections than after. And every partner in the coalition must participate in the government. There should not be back-seat driving or power without responsibility.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:31 IST)
Dear Secularism: Are you real or pseudo?
Sanjay (Fri Feb 20 1998 8:25 IST)
Mr Hegde: Why did you join BJP? I remember once you had told that the BJP should be kept out of power at any cost? Is this a political compromise?
Imran (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:6 IST)
Mr Hegde: Did you join hands with the BJP to defeat your bete noir, HD Deve Gowda in Karanataka?
ajay (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:10 IST)
mr hegde, why are you joining hands with a party you thought communal till recently? Only to defeat gowda? What is the problem between you two?
Secularism (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:12 IST)
Mr.Hegde is it true that your heart is with Congress and mind with the BJP? And that after the elections you will be always on the winning side ??
Aakriti (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:18 IST)
Mr.Hegde... tell me honestly, how long do u plan to stay with the BJP?
ajay (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:20 IST)
mr hegde, let me offer my (belated) congratulations to you (and mr gowda) on winning the karnataka assembly elections in 94/95. You worked together then. What went wrong after that? Why did join you hands with the BJP?
vaidy (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:21 IST)
Mr Hedge, You are supposed to be a value based politician (and one of the politician I have some respect for). Is it moral for the dal ministers to join vedike and contest on Lokshakit ticket without quitting Dal? How can you allow this and why is this double standard ?
Secularism (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:28 IST)
Mr.Hegde what made you to align with BJP after all these years of BJP-bashing ??
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:34 IST)
Dear Readers: I have both criticised and complimented BJP in the past. That cannot be called 'bashing'. I have aligned with BJP because of historic necessity that in the 51st year of Independence we must have a 'stable and able' government. And one must not forget that the BJP, which was earlier called the Jan Sangh, was part of the Janata Party of which I was the General Secretary.
KARTHIK SUBBIAH (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:33 IST)
Mr. Hegde, why is that we are still grappling with issues that are eating away our resources, energy, and focus, issues such as lack of a common civil code. Do you think that solving these would enable us to focus on our future? How do you go about solving these. Aren't we contradicting ourselves by calling ourselves a secular country but giving preferential treatment to minorities.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:37 IST)
Dear Mr Karthik: Unfortunately, during the last two and half decades, instead of issues, political parties have been fighting elections on slogans. Every political party has been trying to build up its own vote bank. Elections are no more fought on the basis of performance, policies and programmes. Partly this is because of the present electoral system, which, in the ultimate analysis, is not even democratic.
MBM (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:32 IST)
If BJP comes to power, would they exercise the nuclear option?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:38 IST)
dear MBM: That is a matter the new government will decide.
common man (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:41 IST)
Mr.Hegde, I agree with your views say about the electoral system. Now can you please answer to my questions i asked you about the COALITION governments. Will you assure the electorate that you will not rock the government unnecessarily ??
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:43 IST)
Dear Common Man: I have been saying since the last 10 years that in India there won't be a 'single party' rule. Coalition arrangements are unavoidable. But I said that such coalition governments must be agreed upon before the elections rather than after so that the people are also taken into confidence. Every party in the coalition must participate in the government. In other words, responsibility must go with power. As far as my party is concerned, it will not rock the government.
princess (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:26 IST)
Mr Hegde: Can we go back a little in time? In the late 1980s, you were touted as a future prime minister. Today, if you don't mind some hardspeak, you are neither a minister nor is your future bright. You must have mulled over what went wrong with your chess moves on the political board. Can you share those inner thoughts with us, in this chatroom?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:45 IST)
Dear Princess: Are you the same one who I've been calling 'Princess'?
uds (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:38 IST)
Mr.Hegde, have you ever thought of why India is still poor?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:48 IST)
Dear uds: For two reasons. One is the growth of population which has more than trebled since Independence. Second: Economic growth has not been steady and of satisfactory level.
govinda (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:39 IST)
I am calling from US. It is a great pleasure to be live with Mr. Hegde. What do you think of the anti-Brahmin outburst by J.H Patel?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:52 IST)
Dear Govinda: In the first place I do not know in what state of mind J H Patel was when he made that statement. He is in the habit of making statements which he considers humorous but which are really stupid and, sometimes, vulgar. At the moment, he thinks the consolidation of two major communities in Karnataka will save him. But already he has put his foot in his mouth expressing regret for that statement.
paartha (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:52 IST)
Mr Hegde> You just said population growth is the major cause for India still being very poor. But why doesn't any party do something about it , like bringing legislation. What will you do if you come to power?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:58 IST)
Dear Paartha: Since it is an important national issue it has to be solved on the basis of consensus. I had suggested in my Tata memorial lecture three years ago in Delhi that we should have a three-pronged approach to this issue -- persuasion and education, incentives, and deterrents.
For instance, by incentives I mean that if a family has one child, that child's education and employment should be taken care of. And by deterrents I mean that if a family has more than two children, the parents should be disfranchised, debarred from voting.
common man (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:59 IST)
Mr. Hegde, suppose a BJP led coalition comes to the Centre and if the Lok Shakti government comes in Karnataka, then my question is in that context:
Another concern of mine is that if Lok Shakti forms government in Karnataka, what lightning step measures can you think of to clean up the ELECTRICITY MESS in KARNATAKA and the basic infrastructure.
What do you propose to make sure there will be enough investment in Karnataka in the infra-structure area ?? At least now there should be no problems between the Centre and state in going ahead with work.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:3 IST)
Dear Common Man: If Lok Shakti government comes to power, the topmost priority will be given to building of infrastructure. Actually, I had started it when I was chief minister. Both in regard to Bangalore city as well as in the rest of the state of Karnataka.
Several major projects (eg. the Bangalore-Mysore highway; to have six flyovers in Bangalore, privatisation of electricity etc.) were sanctioned but the subsequent government (Congress government) cancelled all this. And the Janata Dal government, which came after that, failed to continue with these projects. So far as friction between the Centre and the State is concerned, unless a major decision is taken to decentralise power and resources on federal principles, I'm afraid, it will continue.
ajay (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:55 IST)
mr hegde, do'nt you think campaigning costs a lot of money and it is basically a big advantage for rich man/party. any way this can be addressed? i mean seshan helped with code of conduct etc.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:7 IST)
Dear Ajay: The present electoral system is both expensive and undemocratic. The first past the post system which we are following is not really democratic. The election expenses are so high that even an upper middle class man cannot afford to stand for elections unless he is financially helped.
Since there is no state funding in India, he or his party has to raise resources from various people, including the undesirable. And therefore, we must have electoral reforms as a priority item on our agenda.
ravikc (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:6 IST)
Mr. Hegde, In the past you, along with VP Singh etc. were big advocates of a two-party system. Do you see that happening in the near future? Do you see any benefits from that?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:14 IST)
Dear Ravikc: The two-party system comes through evolution. In 1977, when the Janata Party was formed with the merger of five different parties namely, the Congress O, the Jan Sangh, the BKD, the PSP and the Swatantra Party, a two-party situation had developed. It would have crystallised into a two-party system if Charan Singh had not broken the Janata Party.
Now, we see three different groups: Congress and its allies, BJP and its allies, and United Front along with the CPI-CPM. But the present United Front will not remain united after the elections. There will be regrouping in the third group. Ultimately, I hope there will be only two major national political parties.
uds (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:9 IST)
Mr.Hegde, we Indians living in abroad faced a question from our white friends when TV's here showed how our UP politicians made a dirty drama in the assembly itself... The q is, How will these stupid politicians take India into the 21st century?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:18 IST)
Dear uds: It is a matter of shame that elected representatives of the people instead of setting an example of good parliamentary behaviour have been turning the Assembly into an arena of physical fights. Such ugly scenes must be dealt with by the Speaker with firmness.
common man (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:17 IST)
Mr.Hegde Under what circumstance would Lok Shakti support a Congress government at the Centre. This I am asking you because before the BJP you were more keen on a tie-up with the Congress which was turned down by Kesri.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:21 IST)
Dear Common Man: It is not true that Shri Kesri turned down any tie-up between the Congress and the Lok Shakti for the simple reason that he and I never discussed this matter! It is true, however, that Shri Kesri and I met a few times to discuss other matters. There is no question of supporting the Congress government. The Congress will not be in a position to form a government.
Anshul (Fri Feb 20 1998 9:13 IST)
Mr. Hegde, I have heard that your alliance partner the BJP does in fact encourage NRIs to vote, do you feel the same way?
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:25 IST)
Continuation of answer to a question asked about Voting Rights: The citizens of many countries living abroad do have voting rights in their respective countries. Similar provisions should be made for Indians living abroad.
Mr Ramakrishna Hegde (Fri Feb 20 1998 10:31 IST)
To All: Our countrymen living abroad have earned both good money and good reputation and have made India proud. I know they are disappointed about the behaviour of their fellow-citizens back home, particularly the politicians. Things will change sooner than later with a new government taking office after this election. I expect a lot of change both in terms of policies, and implementation of programmes. I was delighted to have this chat with you. So long!