People will certainly want to teach a lesson to Siddaramaiah for wanting to destroy the JD(S)

Modi’s nature is to play to gallery: Deve Gowda

With the single-minded objective of bringing his party back to power, JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda is fighting one of his toughest political battles this election season. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Gowda continues to clarify his party’s stand and intentions. In an interaction with Ashwini Y S of DH, he shares his views on various issues related to the elections. Excerpts:

How many seats will the JD(S) win in the elections? What are the surveys indicating?

I have not commissioned any survey. But several agencies are doing such surveys for money. Siddaramaiah (chief minister) is seen having lunch with them. JD(S) will get 113 or 115 seats.

But you are left with only 28 of the 40 sitting MLAs...

That may be one of the reasons that I will get an absolute majority. People will certainly want to teach a lesson to Siddaramaiah for wanting to destroy the JD(S) by drawing seven MLAs from my party. That may go against him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi first praised you, then attacked you.

It is the nature of Modi to play to the gallery. On the first day, while attacking Siddaramaiah, he said that a former prime minister was disrespected. But somebody might have told him that his remarks could help Deve Gowda. Also, after I attacked him, he revised his stand. I don’t care if he praises or criticises me. I can’t keep getting bogged down by what X, Y or Z says.

The Congress claims that Modi’s praise validated speculations of a JD(S)-BJP pact. How will the JD(S) counter this?

I have attacked Modi very bitterly. What more do you want? No Indian politician has attacked him like I have.

Modi’s praise has also been linked to the supposed Vokkaliga consolidation.

Where is the consolidation of Vokkaligas? Isn’t D K Shivakumar (Congress leader) a Vokkaliga? He is aspiring to become the chief minister. Kumaraswamy’s image has grown too — all other communities are fond of him now.

Modi has said that your party will come a distant third.

We are confident that our party is doing well. Ultimately, the end result is left to the electorate. We have put up our candidates who are working sincerely.

Did you feel insulted by Rahul’s remarks, like Modi says?

Rahul Gandhi is heading a party which has got a history of 130 years. Naturally, he has to fight. I don’t know how people will respond. Modi is a seasoned politician. He was a CM for 12 years and has completed four years as PM. Rahul is a young man with the courage and conviction to fight the battle — and he is doing so to the best of his ability.

It is perceived that you still nurse a soft corner for Siddaramaiah.

Is Siddaramaiah a trustworthy man? What was he? Ramakrishna Hegde (former CM) warned me about him. Though I projected him, he betrayed me and went to the Congress.

But you have stood by him in times of trouble.

When his son died, I went there to show my sympathy. Is that friendship? If you classify it as a friendship, I am sorry for that. I told him that Indira Gandhi, too, had lost her son (and a political heir). I had suggested that he bring his second son into politics. That was all.

Will the third front go with the Congress?

It is up to seniors leaders like Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrashekar Rao, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati to come to an understanding on that issue. The future of the country lies with the third front. Staunch allies of the BJP like Shiv Sena and TDP have come out. I don’t know what further damage will happen to the BJP by 2019.

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