‘North Karnataka neglected in power sharing’

Former Water Resources Minister, M.B. Patil who had apparently created a controversy after he was denied a ministry in the coalition government, had also maintained silence after he was reportedly directed by the Congress High Command not to create trouble for the coalition government. In an interview with
The Hindu,
Mr. Patil shared some views after remaining away from the media for awhile. Excerpts:

Do you believe that your demand for a Cabinet berth led to some setback to the Congress?

I have been developing the Congress for the last two decades. Like how I have gained from the party, the party too has gained alot from me. Therefore, what I demanded was my right and nothing else. So, I don’t think I have in any way created trouble or embarrassed the party.

The allegation against you is that you failed to realise the limitations.

You see my demand has nothing to do with the coalition government. My demand was only with the Congress. Knowing the limitations, I can say that the loyalty and seniority of Congress leaders has been neglected in the formation of the government. This certainly has disappointed several veteran leaders. Hopefully, the party will take corrective measures in coming days.

Since the Cabinet needed to be expanded, do you think your contentions would be heard?

I have already shared my views with the high command. If the matter is considered, it will strengthen the party and give it moral support to face the coming Lok Sabha elections.

You were denied even the post of KPCC chief.

That is not right. I refused the post after party offered it to me. However, I can’t share the reason for this in public. The party knows it.

Did the party introspect on the reasons for its defeat? Did the Lingayat issue backfire and affect prospects?

First of all, the Lingayat issue may not have worked in favour of the party but it certainly has not caused any backfire. The reasons for the defeat of the party in the election are many, I can’t say much about it.

After the election, how do plan to continue your demand for a separate Lingayat religion?

The Jagatika Lingayat Maha Sabha will continue its work in this regard. We will not hold rallies but will continue to conduct awareness programmes among people to make them realise the need for a separate religion.

Do you think the coalition government has any role to play in this?

The ball now in the Union government’s court and I am hopeful that it will take a positive decision. In case it fails to acknowledge our demand, legal options are always open to us.

Many say that the budget presented by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy neglected North Karnataka region. Your take on this?

Several people have not understood the budget properly. It is not a separate one but just an additional budget mainly for giving relief to farmers by waiving farm loans.

You don’t think the budget has neglected NK?

Not in terms of development, but the region has got raw deal in terms of Cabinet berths as a majority of legislators of South Karnataka have got places in the government.

What about those leaders asking for separate Statehood for NK?

Separate Statehood is not a panacea for all issues. I always support a united Karnataka. Thus I am not in favour of any such demand.

Do you think the coalition government will last for five years?

Well, it should last and will if there is a better coordination between the Congress and the JD(S). I hope both parties maintain this coordination.

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