Slouching towards BJP? Ex-ally HD Kumaraswamy goes all-out against Congress
In a withering attack against its former ally, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy alleged that the Congress is synonymous with horse-trading. Till about a year ago, his party ran a coalition government with the Congress in Karnataka.
The JDS leader ridiculed the national party’s ‘save democracy’ campaign being run by it currently in light of developments in Rajasthan.
Pointing out that while the Congress is running a campaign against the BJP and accusing it of buying MLAs to topple democratically elected governments, Kumaraswamy said: “What has the Congress done? Haven’t they lured all BSP MLAs who supported the Congress to form government in Rajasthan? Is this not a buyout?”
“Is this democratic behavior? If you are dividing the like-minded party MLAs supporting you, through deceit, who would support you? Are these mistakes not visible to you?” he questioned.
The former CM accused the Congress of working to divide the JDS in the past.
“Is it not a fact that for the sake of one Rajya Sabha seat, the Congress government in Karnataka purchased eight JDS MLAs? Is this democracy? Didn’t Congress conspire to form a government after the 2018 assembly polls by buying our MLAs? Does Congress have the moral courage to answer these questions?” Kumaraswamy said in a statement.
The Kumaraswamy outburst comes at a time when he is increasingly seen by analysts as being soft on the BJP. Even as the Congress has repeatedly attacked the BJP government and alleged massive corruption in the purchase of Covid treatment-related equipment, the JDS has been rather quiet about it.
Both Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda have asserted that the priority right now is to fight the pandemic and bills about purchases could be examined later. This has been interpreted by analysts as being soft on the ruling party and leading to speculation about the relationship between the two parties.
On July 23, addressing a press conference to respond to charges on corruption related to purchase of Covid related equipment, revenue minister R Ashoka had pointedly asked the Congress to “learn from JDS on how to work with the government during a pandemic rather than level baseless allegations”.
The Congress, however, chose to react rather cautiously to Kumaraswamy’s latest outburst.
Speaking to HT, Congress’s chief spokesperson BL Shankar said: “Our Save Democracy campaign is to ensure that the spirit of the constitution is upheld. We want everybody to examine how elected representatives should not be bought and sold as well as the role of the Governor, the speaker, and the whip. Kumaraswamy’s comments are unwarranted, ill-timed, and inappropriate as it is the duty of opposition parties to join hands to prevent the constitution from being subverted.”
Asked whether JDS was cosying up to the ruling party in the state, Shankar said: “It is for each party to take decisions on the road ahead.”
BJP spokesperson S Prakash though welcomed Kumaraswamy’s comments, saying: “It is borne out of the experience he must have had while dealing with the Congress.”
Prakash though said that there was no question of the BJP having any truck with the JDS. “We have a majority of our own. Why would we (need their) help?”
Political analyst Manjunath though said that recent remarks by JDS showed the party’s growing closeness to the BJP.
“Though Deve Gowda today made some comments against the state government asking it to withdraw some of the recently issued ordinances, JDS realises that as long as Shivakumar and Siddaramiah are at the helm of the Congress in Karnataka, they have a challenge on hands. There is no love lost between Siddaramiah and the Gowdas. Also, the JDS fears Shivakumar might emerge as the leader of Vokkaligas, who traditionally have been its most solid supporters. Which is why JDS is increasingly soft on the BJP,” said Manjunath.