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The Rediff Interview/S Bangarappa
March 11, 2005
Former Karnataka chief minister S Bangarappa, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on the eve of the Lok Sabha election last year, has quit the BJP and joined Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (Bangarappa (left) embraces Mulayam Singh).
Bangarappa had won the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket. He has also resigned as a member of Parliament.
When he joined the BJP last year, then BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu had said: 'We consider him as a powerful force in the state, and he will prove useful in forming the first BJP government in any state in southern India.'
But after a year's stint in the BJP, Bangarappa says he is fed up with the party's fundamentalist Hindutva politics.
"The BJP does not care for secularism in India and that is why I quit," Bangarappa tells Deputy Managing Editor George Iype in an exclusive interview.
You joined the BJP just one year ago. What promoted you to quit?
I had serious differences of opinion on many issues with the BJP ever since I joined the party. When I joined the BJP last year, I was told by senior party leaders that the BJP was going to tread the path of secularism and leaders like me were the need of the hour. So I joined the BJP with a lot of hope.
I contested the Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket and won. I was not disheartened when the BJP lost power at the Centre because I thought the party would be going in a new direction.
What happened after you joined the BJP? Didn't the BJP treat you well?
After the Lok Sabha election, the BJP changed its colours. Instead of embracing secularism, I felt to my dismay that the BJP was once again going after Hindutva. I hated the party embracing Hindutva and I have been telling this to all the senior BJP leaders.
I was outraged when the party during its national executive meetings in Goa and Ranchi decided to uphold Hindutva as its core political mission. I am now convinced that the BJP is a fundamentalist party and therefore I have jumped out of it.
The BJP's attitude and approach towards minority communities, especially the Muslims and Christians, has not changed. There is no place for Hindutva in the mainstream politics of India. The BJP should realise that. But sadly, the BJP leaders again want to indulge in Hindutva politics. The BJP never wants to change its image and ideology.
Why did you resign as a member of Parliament?
I resigned from the Lok Sabha because I am a gentleman politician. I had won the Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket from Shimoga. So I decided to leave the seat along with my resignation from the BJP. I keep my political values always.
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It is said you left the BJP because you were not accommodated in the party.
I joined the BJP to lead the party in Karnataka because I have been in politics here for many years now. But I have learned that the BJP is not the right kind of a party for a politician like me because it is impossible to work with leaders whose ideologies are poles apart from mine.
The BJP gave me false hopes and I was attracted to the party; but I have realised my mistake. I have realised that the BJP continues to be a communal party.
What prompted you to choose the Samajwadi Party?
Simple. It is the most secular, socialist party in India today. If you recall, I had joined politics at the behest of India's most wellknown secular political leader Dr Ram Manohar Lohia. I won my first election to the Karnataka assembly on a ticket from the Samyukta Socialist Party founded by Dr Lohia. I always upheld the principles espoused by Dr Lohia.
These days, I feel the Samajwadi Party is the only political party that is following Dr Lohia's political ideologies of socialism and secularism. I feel convinced that the Samajwadi Party is my political future.
It is said you joined the Samajwadi Party because you are very close to its general secretary, Mr Amar Singh.
I am very close to Mulayam Singh Yadav, also to Amar Singh. It was Mulayamji who asked me to join the party. We have been good friends all these years. We share the same political ideologies and vision. I am happy that I am in the right political party now.
What is your political plan for the Samajwadi Party?
My only mission is to develop and spread the Samajwadi Party across southern India. The party is not present in the southern states. I have been appointed president of the Samajwadi Party's Karnataka unit. I will ensure that the Samajwadi Party is the number one political party in Karnataka soon.
What are your immediate plans?
The Samajwadi Party is organising a massive convention at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore to announce my joining the party. The convention and rally will be held on March 25. Lakhs of my followers in Karnataka will attend the rally. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh, Jayaprada and all other MPs and leaders of the Samajwadi Party will be coming here for the convention.
The Congress party is a closed chapter for me, forever.