Deve Gowda plays down Modi’s praise, hits out at Rahul and Siddaramaiah
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lavished praises on him at an election rally in Karnataka, JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda on Wednesday sought to play it down, saying it did not mean the BJP and his party were cosying up to each other.
Gowda also slammed chief minister Siddaramaiah for suggesting that his party would back the Centre’s ruling BJP. He claimed that it was Siddaramaiah who wanted to become chief minister in 2004 with the saffron party’s support when he was in the JD(S).
Virtually endorsing Modi’s criticism of Rahul Gandhi for having ‘insulted’ him, the JD(S) supremo also said a Kannadiga had become Prime Minister and”Siddaramaiah tried to “demolish” Kannadigas’ pride.
“This is how Congress gives respect to Kannada pride,” Gowda, who was the PM heading the United Front government at the centre during 1996-97, told a press conference here.
He asserted the JD(S) would come back to power in the May 12 polls, and discounted possibility of a hung assembly.
“Maybe, by praising me, he (the prime minister) wants to gain sympathy. That is all. That does not mean there is an” understanding (between BJP and JDS),” Gowda said.
“In fact, the JD(S) is confident of forming the government on its own with the cooperation of TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, Chandrasekhar Rao (of TRS) and other friends in political arena... I do not expect a hung assembly,” he said.
“I have been saying this and I will say this again - we are confident of forming government on our own,” the JDS chief said.
In remarks that raised eyebrows in political circles, Modi, while launching the second leg of his campaign blitz for the assembly elections, had lashed out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for “insulting” Gowda, saying it showed his “arrogance”.
“Showering praise on Gowda at a rally in Udupi, the Prime Minister had said Gowda was one of the most respected and tallest leaders for whom he had great respect.
“Modi’s remarks relating to Gowda were seen as extending an olive branch to the JDS veteran to keep the options open for the BJP in the event of a hung verdict.
Hitting back at Siddaramaiah, Gowda said he “wanted to be the chief minister with the support of BJP when he was in my party in 2004. I said no. Now Siddaramaiah is spreading this that I will support BJP,” he said.
“The 2004 assembly polls had thrown up a fractured verdict with the BJP emerging as the single largest party.
The Congress, which lost power, and the JD(S) had formed a coalition government then. It collapsed after Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy joined hands with the BJP and formed an alternative government with it.
Earlier today in Hubbali, Siddaramaiah alleged there was a tacit understanding between JDS and BJP which was reflected in Modi’s praise for Gowda.
“Deve Gowda should be admitted to old-age care centre. Who told this? Is it not the Prime Minister? Now he is praising him. What does this mean? This is a political statement and it clearly shows there is a tacit understanding between JDS and BJP,” he said.
Gowda said the JD(S) has joined hands with BSP, a political rival of the BJP, and that the move will make things”easier for the party to gain votes in 20 places.
“This alliance will continue in Lok Sabha elections too. Other than this, we have not tied up with any national party,” he said.
“Gowda also said a Kannadiga had become Prime Minister and”Siddaramaiah tried to “demolish” Kannadigas’ pride.
“This is how Congress gives respect to Kannada pride,” he added.
“On Siddaramaiah’s attack on him for playing dynastic politics, Gowda said, “His son also is contesting from Varuna. What is the answer for that?”