Rahul Gandhi is No. 1 candidate for prime minister, says Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy

Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy ‘accidentally’ became the chief minister of Karnataka for the second time after the assembly elections threw up a hung house. With 37 seats in a 224-member assembly, JD(S) got support of 80 MLAs from the Congress, which was keen to prevent another state going to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kumaraswamy, who has described the coalition government as a “child of circumstance”, has had to face a number of challenges, including opposition by a section of Congress leaders, and is trying to rustle up finances for a massive farm-loan waiver announced in the budget.
Kumaraswamy spoke to HT’s Venkatesha Babu and Prashant Jha on why he thinks Congress president Rahul Gandhi is the number one choice to be the next Prime Minister, the need for Opposition unity, how coalition governments have delivered better governance than single-party majority governments in India, and his perceived differences with former CM Siddaramaiah. Edited excepts:After the initial hiccups, has the coalition government in Karnataka settled down? There was some unhappiness and dissidence from legislators who didn’t get ministerial berths. Has that been sorted out?According to me, that is not dissidence or even unhappiness. I will take (opinions) as advice – even Siddaramaiah’s. He advised me to go for supplementary budget because his view was that a budget had already been presented in February 2018. I took his suggestion as advice, not as opposition.
But after forming a new government, we felt it was only right that a new budget should be presented. Even Siddaramaiah eventually agreed with this. Though the BJP walked out, both partners successfully passed the budget. There is no denying that both the parties unitedly stand behind the budget. In coalitions, different opinions come but that should not be seen as dissidence.
Former speaker and senior Congress leader KB Koliwad said some sections of his party are not happy with the tie-up. Has the Congress high command reassured you on this count and said the government will continue for a full term?
When the Congress offered me support to form a coalition government, the intention was clear: a full five-year term. Even senior leaders of their party who are decision makers have expressed this publicly, including the Congress president. He (Rahul Gandhi) said we will support this government for five years and I believe that is their real intention.