'The BJP is trying to bribe or unleash the income tax authorities (on us).'
In an interview conducted a few hours before Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala invited Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yeddyurappa to form a government, Rajeev Gowda, below, a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha and its national spokesperson, told Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf
Who do you think the governor should call to form the government?
The governor's job is to invite the majority party and ensure that they form a government.
The BJP has 104 seats and the majority is 112 seats.
They do not have a majority so saying that the largest party must get a chance and be given more time is an invitation to horse-trading.
That is not a healthy practice.
Whatever precedents the BJP may talk of, there are enough examples in our country where post-poll coalitions have been called to form the government.
So the governor of Karnataka must call the two parties who have got enough numbers to form a stable government.
In Goa last year, the BJP formed the government even after the Congress emerged as the largest party. So why is the Congress following in the BJP's footsteps?
Karnataka has not given a mandate to the BJP.
They don't have the numbers.
If they have the numbers, they can form the government.
But the fact is that they do not have the numbers.
The Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular have got the numbers to form the government.
(interrupts) In 2004, we had a similar situation in the Karnataka assembly elections when the results were declared.
The BJP was the single largest party and did not have the numbers to form the government. (In 2004, the BJP won 79 seats, the Congress 65 and the JD-S won 58 seats.)
At that time, too, the Congress and the JD-S formed the government.
And if you look at the vote share of the Congress and the JD-S, they have a 60 percent plus vote share.
Do you feel the Congress should have struck a pre-poll alliance with the JD-S? Was it a mistake not to do so?
In Karnataka we are Opposition parties, especially in Old Mysore.
The BJP does not have a presence at all in that area.
It is a direct fight between the Congress and the JD-S.
And if we go for an alliance, we will have to give up huge chunk of our seats to them.
It is like the Congress and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) in Maharashtra.
It makes sense to go and tie up at the Parliament level.
If you see local-level politics, there are two factions: The Congress faction and the JD-S faction.
We are competing with the JD-S and if we say we are giving tickets to the JD-S, our people will say what happens to us?
They will go and join the BJP and suddenly in an area where the BJP has no presence, they will start having a presence.
Then President Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma was not in favour of post-poll alliances and did not give them a chance to form the government.
So don't you think the BJP is right to stake a claim?
Governors have their own discretion.
It is clear that the BJP has no majority and on the other side there no Independents MLAs (to support the BJP).
The Congress has 78 MLAs and the JD-S has 38. Plus, two Independents are with us.
In this circumstance, if you deliberately deny us power by using some excuse or other, people will see through what the BJP is doing.
The BJP is trying to bribe or unleash the income tax authorities (on us).
The BJP is practising saam, daam, dand bhed (trying to get power by hook or by crook) in Karnataka.
They will do all the tricks.
(Atal Bihari) Vajpayee got his first prime ministership in 1996 and people did not defect from other parties to support him.
This gives an advantage to the BJP to form the government if they are called first.
It is not easy.
People have won their seats on other party tickets.
Voters have invested a lot of energy and passion in supporting them to get elected.
If MLAs immediately betray their trust by shifting to the BJP, then it is likely that the people will counter those MLAs when they meet them.
Also, the Congress and the JD-S will be working together, so it will be difficult for the MLAs from our parties to shift to the BJP.
Will the anti-defection law apply in that case?
I don't think that time will come as both party MLAs are staunch supporters of their respective parties.
The BJP says it is confident of forming the government.
If we do this (forming the government), the media will say look at the Congress, they are negating the mandate.
And if the BJP does that, they will call them Chankaya.
The Congress had more percentage of votes, but that did not convert into seats. Where did the Congress fail?
People are saying identity politics hit us hard.
They say that in coastal Karnataka, religious polarisation worked for the BJP.
North Karnataka desired to have a Lingayat chief minister (in B S Yedyurappa).
In Old Mysore area it was the desire to have a Vokkaliga chief minister.
This is the talk that is happening right now.