JD-S general secretary Kunwar Danish Ali played a key role in bringing about the JD-S-Congress alliance after the Karnataka Assembly polls. It was his talks with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad that firmed up the alliance. The JD-S alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party was also orchestrated by Danish Ali. The 54-year-old leader is a confidante of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy, Karnataka Chief Minister.

Danish Ali entered politics as national president of the Janata Dal student wing in 1994, when he was a student in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia. He drew Deve Gowda’s attention during the 1994 Assembly polls in Karnataka when he was speaking at a rally in Ramanagara.

In his more than quarter of a century with the Janata Dal (S) and its earlier avatar, Ali has contested one Assembly poll from Garhmukhteswar in Uttar Pradesh, the state he hails from. His grand uncle, Kunwar Mahmood Ali, owed allegiance to the Indian National Lok Dal under late prime minister Charan Singh, and was Governor of Madhya Pradesh in 1992-93. Danish Ali spoke to SRI KRISHNA on Opposition unity and the recent byelections in Karnataka. Excerpts:

Q: What is the status of the JD(S) and Congress coalition government in Karnataka?

A: It is a coalition government which is working very smoothly and there is a very good understanding between the two parties particularly at the leadership level.

In initial days there was some problem at the local level as the two parties fought elections against each other very bitterly and then overnight they came together to form government. But, as time passed things have settled and even those issues have been sorted out and now I can say very confidently that there is no problem at all.

In the five byelections in Karnataka ~ two Assembly and three Lok Sabha seats ~ we contested together and had a joint campaign. After almost 13 years, Siddaramaiah, who left the JD(S) and who was our deputy Chief Minister, sat with (former Prime Minister) H D Deve Gowda and discussed politics. They had a joint election campaign and all of us from both parties including Deve Gowda, Siddaramaiah, K C Venugopal and myself campaigned there.

Q: How do you view the outcome of the three Assembly and two Lok Sabha byelections in Karnataka?

A: It is a victory for Opposition unity and the people of Karnataka have put their stamp of approval on the JD(S)-Congress government in the state led by H D Kumaraswamy. The byelections also showed that transfer of votes was possible as Congress and JD(S) votes went to the respective alliance partners.

These elections are also a pointer that people would support a united opposition against the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The performance in these byelections by a combined opposition clearly is an indication on which political alignment is emerging on the political horizon.

Q: Since your coalition is doing well, how do you view this coming together in Karnataka as far as the Lok Sabha election in 2019 is concerned?

A: As far as Karnataka is concerned, we have already decided that we ( JD-S and Congress) are going together in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. We will contest all 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state together. We had a pre-poll alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and that alliance is intact.

As far as Mahagatbandhan issue is concerned, in some states there will be a pre-poll alliance and in some there will be a post-poll alliance. But I can tell you this much that among those political parties and leaders who came to attend the swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy on our invitation, there is a unanimous resolve that we will fight together to remove this fascist, anti-people, antifarmer and anti-youth BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This government is destroying all institutions established in the last 70 years starting from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Deve Gowda. They have not fulfilled even a single promise made by them at the time of the May 2014 Lok Sabha election.

They think that the election promises they made were only jumlas. Ultimately in some states where secular parties are strong enough not to have an alliance and where BJP is not a threat at all, parties will contest even against each other.

But in those states where BJP is a threat, definitely we will try to have a pre-poll alliance. In Kerala, the BJP is not a threat, so the LDF and UDF will contest. Whether LDF wins or UDF wins, all the 20 seats will come to Delhi against the BJP. In West Bengal Mamata Banerjee herself is so strong that there is no need for her to have alliance with the Left parties or the Congress.

So whether Trinamul Congress wins, Congress wins or CPM wins, all the parties are going to be against the BJP in Delhi. In Tamil Nadu, under the leadership of DMK, there will be an alliance. BJP is not even a force in Tamil Nadu or in other southern states. So, in some states a pre-poll alliance and in some states it will be after the election.

Q: What about the leadership of these opposition parties coming together? Who will head it?

A: India is a parliamentary democracy. We are a multi-party parliamentary democracy. According to the Constitution, people will elect their representatives to the Lok Sabha and those elected in turn would decide who shall be the prime minister.

Election will take place and those people who are elected would elect the prime minister. So, where is the question of leadership? We are not in America where there is a Presidential system of government. After election, the leader of the Lok Sabha will become prime minister.

We are not going to fall into the trap of the BJP and RSS on the issue of leadership of the opposition or the Mahagatbandhan. There is no need for us to declare our prime ministerial candidate.

After elections, all like-minded parties will sit together ~ pre-poll alliance partners and post-poll friendly parties. I am sure that it will not take even 24 hours to elect our leader who will be the prime minister of the country.

Q: What is your view on the ongoing controversy regarding the nation’s premier probe institution – Central Bureau of Investigation?

A: See it is not only a question of CBI. This government is bent upon destroying all the constitutional and autonomous institutions established by the previous governments. One by one they are destroying all these institutions.

They have infiltrated all the institutions. First, they tried to infiltrate or indirectly control the judiciary and the Election Commission. The people they have appointed in the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and other organisations, everybody knows.

Whoever comes in their way, they want to destroy. This is the fascist mindset. But after the CBI issue, one thing is clear. People have understood that something is there which the prime minister and his friends want to hide so that the perception of honesty and “na khaunga na khane dunga” has gone. People have understood that this government represents crony capitalism.

Today, the farmers are suffering and committing suicide. They were promised that they would get double their input costs. What is happening? All the public sector undertakings (PSUs) have been destroyed. In the name of reforms, all labour laws have been totally destroyed.

Whatever has been in the interest of the common man, labourers or farmers or youth, all the institutions, including educational institutions, have been destroyed.

The so-called chowkidar has allowed the loot by his own close friends. Why are all these controversies around Gujarati politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats? Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and also bureaucrats. People want answers. I can only say this much ~ don’t underestimate the wisdom of the common man of this country.

Q: What about the ongoing controversy regarding the purchase of the French fighter aircraft Rafale?

A: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was in the final stages of signing the agreement. Overnight this was overturned and you gave a contract of over Rs 30,000 crore to the company of a friend who does not have a single day’s experience of defence weapon production.

That company is registered 12 days before the prime minister’s visit to France. It is an open and shut case. The deal was signed between the two Heads of State and one Head of State has already come on record and said that pressure was there by a government on Dassault. What more do you want?