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Interview With KC Venugopal

Interview With KC Venugopal

It is BJP versus Congress on the issue of government formations in Goa and Manipur. The Congress lost its chance to form governments in Goa and Manipur despite emerging as the single largest party in both the states. The election scoreboard of 3-2 in favour of Congress was turned into 1-4 in a matter of just one day by the BJP.

Congress is extremely upset with the developments as it did not get invitation as the single largest party to form a government. Describing it as ‘step to sabotage democratic values’, the Congress is determined to take on the Central government for using Governors to its advantage. The Goa battle has already reached Parliament. Uproarious scenes were witnessed in Rajya Sabha on Mar 17 as Congress MP Digvijaya Singh pushed for discussion on BJP forming the government in Goa despite Congress being the single-largest party. Congress members raised questions over the role of Goa Governor Mridula Sinha in the formation of the new government in the state.

Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to Congress MP K C Venugopal to know why the Congress calls the act of Governor and Central government as anti-democratic. Venugopal said the developments in two states were abnormal and added that the BJP was hell bent to grab power by hook or crook.

IC: Why is the Congress unhappy with the BJP governments in Goa and Manipur?

K C Venugopal: We emerged as the single largest party in both the states. The mandate was with the Congress party. In Goa, we got 17 seats plus one independent we supported. So the total number was 18. The BJP won only 13 seats. The Chief Minister lost it. Six ministers also lost. So the mandate was against the BJP government.

IC: The Supreme Court pulled up the Congress party for not staking claim despite being the single largest party. And Manohar Parrikar has passed the floor test. Now what?

I will not question the Supreme Court. But there are some parliamentary conventions. Even if we were not in a position to stake our claim, we should have been invited. Everything happened within 24 hours only. Governor appointed Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister within 24 hours of announcement of the results. This is quite abnormal. At least, Governor should have sought the opinion of the single largest party on government formation. This made it clear that the BJP government at centre can do anything with power and money. They (the BJP) purchased the MLAs in Goa and Manipur.

IC: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar proved that he has the numbers. He won the floor test with 22 MLAs. NCP’s Churchill Alemao backed him, along with 13 from his party the BJP, three from MGP, three from Goa Forward and two Independents. Your party failed to match your own number of 17 as senior leader Vishwajeet Rana, walked out before the vote and later quit the party. Your views.

I agree with you that one of our MLAs went against the party whip. It was not acceptable. The high command will take an appropriate action on this matter. The real problem is what the central government is doing without having the public mandate.

IC:  But you have to look within your own party. There is so much dissent within it so why do you blame the BJP?

I cannot blame them totally. We have been out of power for the last five years in Goa. People of Goa have almost given a verdict in favour of the Congress party. Therefore, the party men felt that we should have formed the government. We did not go for horse-trading.

IC: Why are you questioning the Governor Mridula Sinha in the entire exercise of government formation by the BJP?

We are questioning the role of Governor and the Central government both. By using power and money, the Central government is sabotaging the democratic principles of Indian Constitution.

IC: Will it have any impact on the federal structure of the Constitution?

The government is expected to respect democratic values and principles and conventions. The then President K R Narayanan had invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee to for the government as it was the single largest party on his own. This time, no such thing not happened. Why was the Goa Governor in a tearing hurry to appoint a Chief Minister? Look at UP and Uttarakhand, nothing much has happened.

IC: Like Goa, quieter Manipur saw similar developments.  Like in Goa, the BJP emerged as the second largest party in the state with 21 MLAs, has managed to cobble together a patchwork coalition. Your comments.

One Congress MLA was kidnapped by the BJP with the help of CISF. The Central government has decided to grab power by hook or crook, it can do it.

IC: When the UPA was in power, it used the office of Governor to its advantage is the BJP charge. Now it is your turn to level similar charge against the BJP led NDA government…

No, that is not true. The UPA government had never adopted anti-democratic means to grab power. I admit that as a political party, we have done some political arrangements but never encouraged horse-trading, sabotage democratic principles to capture power. The Congress does not indulge in malpractices.

IC:  What will you do now?

The governments in Goa and Manipur will not last long because they have given cabinet berth to those offered support to the BJP. This shows that they are hungry for power. These governments will not survive for long. I concede that people of Goa are agitated with the BJP over the manner it captured the power. These people are equally angry with the Congress as the mandate was for us. I am sure the public sentiments will prevail soon. Their calculation will fail sooner or later. In both the states, it is a victory of bad politics.

IC: Lot of questions has been raised over the role of Governor in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and in Goa and Manipur now? What will you do now with regard to Governor’s role?

All political parties should collectively raise voice against the Governors and anti democratic ways of the Central government.

IC: Will Congress give memorandum to President regarding the conduct of Governors in Goa and Manipur?

It is a serious matter and our senior party leaders will take a call on it.

IC: What about the Centre’s role?

We have already raised the issue in both houses of Parliament. In Lok Sabha, they have a majority and are not letting us raise the issue.

IC: Being a weak opposition weakens your viewpoint…

Yes. That’s why our party and like-minded opposition parties, who can fight against the fascist move of Central government, will join together and put up a fight.

IC: So you are ready to take on the Central government in Parliament and outside?

Certainly yes! We will fight against the undemocratic policies of the BJP led NDA government.

#(Published on 20th March 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 12)