Even if his son might not have been averse to a last-minute deal with the BJP, JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda is in no mood for a compromise with the saffron party. So much so, he has even accused BJP vice-president Yashwant Sinha of approaching him about supporting LK Advani as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate and backing the alliance after the Lok Sabha polls.
“Ultimately, the last question that came out of my meeting with Yashwant Sinha was ‘are you prepared to join hands with the BJP to make Advani prime minister?’ In that connection, I said nothing would happen. I narrated the whole incident to Rajnath Singh on October 5,” Gowda told HT on telephone. “This was the final view from Yashwant Sinha, that the arrangement between us could have gone on undisturbed if I had agreed to the proposal.”
The former prime minister said he told Sinha he had turned down a person of the stature of AB Vajpayee, when he had offered support after Congress chief Sitaram Kesari had withdrawn support in 1997. “George Fernandes and Ram Jethmalani told me I was a fool not to accept Vajpayee’s offer.”
Gowda went on to say that he told Sinha “I am not going to give any promise right now. People have to give their mandate. I told him my party is committed to keeping equidistance from the BJP and Congress since 1999”. He added: “Rajnath Singh took notes and said he will bring all these points in front of the BJP parliamentary board.”
Gowda also said that the BJP leaders had all “become prisoners of Bellary’s mining lobby”. Sinha’s response was: “I am shocked and surprised that a person who was prime minister should be revealing a private conversation with another political leader. I did not mention the name of Advani or the NDA even once. All I said was that the BJP and JD(S) should have a more enduring relationship.”
BJP sources said Gowda did report the conversation to Rajnath and that they didn’t believe Sinha would have taken Advani’s name. “I don’t consider his statements worth reacting to,” party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.