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"This country has hit rock bottom" : H.D. Deve Gowda - India Today

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
15 February 1997

Title : "This country has hit rock bottom" : H.D. Deve Gowda
Author :
Publication : India Today
Date : February 15, 1997

Angry with the Media, yet cocky about his Government's performance,
Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda spoke to Executive Editor PRABHU
CHAWLA for 90 minutes. Excerpts:

Q. Are you satisfied with the performance of your Government?

A. If anyone wants to make a fair assessment, (they) must compare
my Government's first seven months with the seven months'
performance of governments headed by all prime ministers since

Q. Are you saying your Government has performed better than any
other government in its first seven months?

A. That's the irony today-nobody has taken cognizance of this
Government's achievements. The fourth estate plays a very
meaningful role, but surely when, within 15 days of taking over, I
sanction Rs 2,500 crore to the farmers as relief, that needs to be
taken note of. Normally, Parliament would decide on such things.
But I took a unilateral decision. The second decision was
identifying seven priority areas like primary education, water,
health for all, by the year 2000. It was a time-bound programme to
be implemented on a priority basis within the next four years....
Which other prime minister has fixed a time-bound programmed'

Q. Do you feel the media has been unfair to you?

A. No. Why should I blame anybody? All I wish for is a fair
assessment. Are there any corruption charges against this
Government? We did a defence deal with Russia worth Rs 1,600 crore.
Even Vajpayeeji complimented this Government for its transparency
in the matter.

Q. But despite your achievements, you've been criticised by your
coalition partners like the CPI and CPI(M).

A. There are areas in which they are bound to criticise us, to keep
up the morale of their party men and cadres. If we were to agree
on everything we would have all been in one party.

Q. Are you angry?

A. I'm not. This country has hit rock bottom. We are all to blame.
Instead of blaming each other, let's admit that we have failed
this country.

Q. Do you think the Congress is getting impatient at being out of

A. I cannot say that. Just like my partners have to keep up the
morale of their party men, so too does the Congress. They can't go
on praising Deve Gowda, can they?

Q. But if the Congress decides to join the Government, will you
welcome it?

A. It's a hypothetical question. But if and when they take such a
decision we will think about it.

Q. Won't the coalition gain a majority of its own if they join?

A. How can I speculate on what the Congress will do? Stability of
the Government can be maintained even by support from outside.

Q. Have all the promises of the CMP been kept?

A. You can't judge us on a five-year programme purely on the basis
of the seven months we've been in power.

Q. What is the biggest political problem that you have faced?

A. None at all. Do I give the impression of being under pressure?
There are no files pending before me.

Q. Aren't you having problems with Sitaram Kesri?

A. It's all imaginary. Has he ever said that his party is going to
withdraw support?

Q. But surely you shared a better rapport with Narasimha Rao, whom
you used to meet more often.

A. I have not called on Rao after he resigned. After Kesriji became
the CPP leader I have met him eight times. Twice we have had lunch

Q. Aren't you biased towards your home state Karnataka?

A. It's not true. I have been to West Bengal and Maharashtra four
times, and Madhya Pradesh three times. I have given equally to all
the states.

Q. Has the experience of being prime minister been much different
from being chief minister?

A. I don't find much difference. But Delhi is full of gossipmongers
and conspirators. There are a set of people who are forever trying
to create problems and confusion. That's why I stay aloof.

Q. Will your Government last its full term?

A. I never aspired to be prime minister. Destiny dragged me here. I
don't know how long I will continue. But I do know that the design
of destiny cannot be altered. Even in the given atmosphere I will
run this Government for a full term.

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