Former prime minister and JDS patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda on Wednesday defended his party’s decision to form an alliance with the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, saying he took the decision to save his party.
“This is the pain and desperation to save a regional party for which I toiled hard for 40 years ever since Morarji (Desai) gave me the reins of the party. It is not greed. I have taken the decision (on alliance) to save the party,” said Deve Gowda at a press meet in Bengaluru, where he also questioned the secular credentials of the Congress.
“I will give you hundreds of instances where the Congress, for political gains and to help one family retain political control, fooled the people. Congress has tried to destroy the JDS,” Gowda said as he alleged that some senior Congress leaders had a role in the collapse of the JDS-Congress coalition in 2019.
“In fact, the Congress has tried to destroy secular forces in different states,” he said.
The Congress had questioned the JDS’s decision to join hands with the “communal” BJP and dubbed it as a B-team of the saffron party. Reacting to it, Gowda said: “We had put up our candidate B.M. Farooq for Rajya Sabha. But who got him defeated? They are big (Congress) leaders and I will not take their names. Why was Farooq Abdulla forced to go with the BJP (in Jammu and Kashmir)? Who removed Farooq Abdulla’s government? Was it the BJP or the Congress? Congress has committed blunder after blunder and they talk of secular democracy.”
“Is there is any political party that can claim to have had no relationship with the BJP?,” Gowda further asked and claimed even some Left-wing leaders had joined hands with the saffron party in West Bengal to defeat Mamata Banerjee.
Asked whether a tie up with BJP will hurt the regional party, Gowda said they had held only preliminary discussions on the alliance.
“I permitted (former chief minister and JDS leader) Kumaraswamy to go ahead with the alliance after consulting all our 19 MLAs and 8 MLCs and other party leaders. But it has not been discussed with the prime minister. After consultations with the elected members, I had suggested that the proposal be discussed with each of our elected representatives. The (Union) home minister had called me and I said I had little information about the proposal and suggested that perhaps Kumaraswamy talk to our MLAs,” informed Gowda.
To a question on Muslim leaders in the JDS opposing the alliance and offering to quit the party, Gowda said that his party had always stood for minorities’ protection.
“An ordinary leader like me could create a situation where Farooq Abdulla could return from London and contest elections, win and become the chief minister. Are we going to protect the minorities now is the question. When Kumaraswamy formed the coalition with Yediyurappa in 2006, two Muslim leaders had been killed in coastal Karnataka. The accused were arrested and they also got a life sentence. Let me remind you, Kumaraswamy was the CM and the home minister was from the BJP and yet the minorities were not let down by us. They will never feel let down by us,” asserted Gowda.
The JDS veteran further said that his party members had been taken into confidence before the decision to ally with the saffron party. He, however, made it clear that no seat sharing formula has been discussed between the JDS and the BJP.
“We have not yet discussed the seat sharing formula. I have not yet spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The home minister (Amit Shah) has studied the political situation in Karnataka. I have spoken to him on the phone. He asked me not to decide anything in a hurry and suggested that our parliamentary board meet and clear any confusion,” he said.
JDS is not power-hungry: HDK
Former chief minister and JDS leader H.D. Kumaraswamy recalled the circumstances under which the JDS formed the coalition with the Congress party and how the Congress had allegedly plotted to finish the regional party.
“In 2018, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot had met Deve Gowda in Hotel Ashoka and sought to form a coalition in the presence of K.C. Venugopal and state leaders Siddaramaiah, D.K. Shivakumar, G. Parameshwara and Mallikarjun Kharge. Deve Gowda had refused the CM’s post for the JDS and my health was not good. He asked the Congress to pick anyone from their party to be the CM. We did not align with the Congress for power. But the central Congress leaders insisted that I be made the CM. The same day afternoon, I had received a call from Amit Shah. If JDS was indeed the B-team of the BJP, I would have joined hands with the BJP and become the chief minister for five years,” said Kumaraswamy, adding that despite Rahul Gandhi making an election speech in Hassan calling JDS the B-team of the BJP, he chose to go with the Congress as he did not want a blot on his father’s name.
The former chief minister claimed that a minority leader and minister in the JDS-Congress coalition government had told him that if he tried to prevent five MLAs from quitting, they (Congress) would send five others to the BJP to pull down his government.
“As Deve Gowda has just mentioned, the Congress has tried to destroy secular forces in different states. In 2004, the people had rejected the Congress party, but the Congress formed the government with us. But they tried to finish off the JDS from day one. The history is before us for everyone to see. Did JDS expel Siddaramaiah from the JDS? I know they had booked four air tickets to go to Chennai and meet Venkaiah Naidu (to join the BJP). This is Siddaramaiah’s ideology. They defeated BM Farooq in Rajya Sabha polls and lured away eight of our MLAs and talk of ideology and minority protection. Nobody except Deve Gowda and JDS has given prominence and protection to the minority community. I have discussed all issues with the minority leaders of my party including our party president CM Ibrahim,” said Kumaraswamy.