JD(S) will be kept alive: H D Deve Gowda

Deve Gowda breaks silence, says JD(S) will be kept alive; party working to return to power in 2023

Gowda said he wanted to draw the curtains on speculation that the JD(S) would get merged with the BJP

H D Deve Gowda. Credit: DH file photo.

Former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda on Saturday vowed to keep the regional party alive and that it would try to come to power “on its own strength” in the 2023 Assembly elections in Karnataka.

With this, Gowda said he wanted to draw the curtains on speculation that the JD(S) would get merged with the BJP.

“I was a former PM. Will I take the party to somebody else’s doorsteps? Does this make any sense? Which astrologer made this prophecy,” he asked at a news conference in which he mostly attacked the Congress.

“Let’s not speak so lightly about a political party. This party can’t be so easily removed. It’s not just Deve Gowda and his son, but there are other people who will keep the party afloat,” Gowda said.

Asked about the 2023 elections, Gowda said the JD(S) was working towards winning a majority independently, ruling out a merger with the BJP. “Today, that question doesn’t arise. Let’s see what mandate the people are going to give. We’re working towards coming to power on our own,” he said.

Gowda broke his silence on reports that the JD(S) was getting closer to the BJP, especially after the two parties came together to dislodge Legislative Council chairperson K Pratapachandra Shetty. Gowda said the JD(S) had asked the Congress to cede this post in 2018, when the two parties formed a coalition to form the government.

“I asked Horatti to file his papers. But he was finally forced to withdraw and this hurt him. He’s a 7-time member,” Gowda said. “With just 78 seats, the Congress made K R Ramesh Kumar as the Assembly Speaker. Would that have been possible without our support?” he said. “All this drama happened because (Congress) wanted to test my secular credentials.”

Breathing fire, Gowda said the Congress also had switched sides. “Wasn’t Mamata Banerjee the railway minister in the BJP government? What happened in Bihar? And, didn’t you form the government with Shiv Sena? When the Godhra incident happened, who misled the Muslims. Let them be true to their soul,” he said and asked if the Congress had “taken the contract of Muslims” just to destroy the secularity of the JD(S).

“Rahul Gandhi, a future Prime Minister, was made to say that the JD(S) was the BJP’s ‘B’ team. Who made him say this? What was the result of that? Why did you get reduced to 78 seats despite giving rice, milk and bhagyas,” he said, his anger directed at his former protege Siddaramaiah of the Congress. “The same secular party that called us the BJP’s ‘B’ team later knocked at my door.”

Gowda said the JD(S) wanted to strengthen the Congress. “It wasn’t my son who went to anybody to become the CM. For his swearing-in, secular leaders from all over India came, including six CMs. That was a time when the Congress had lost its identity in 18 states. Who spoiled this,” he asked in rhetoric.

He also defended the party’s decision to support the passage of the Karnataka Land Reforms Bill, which liberalises ownership of farmlands. Referring to an amendment Bill he had moved when he was the CM in the mid-1990s, Gowda said a single-window agency was created to facilitate ease of investments. “Who spoiled this? Was it Deve Gowda’s government or Congress’ government,” he asked, adding that successive governments had amended the land reforms law.

Gowda has convened a mega meeting of the JD(S) on January 7, 2020, at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. This meeting will be a litmus test of sorts. “Grassroots party workers, legislators...everyone has been called. Those who’re honest will come, those who aren’t will go. This meeting will reveal the ground reality,” Gowda said.

He said he had asked his son, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, to focus on the party’s organization by forming a core committee of 8-9 senior leaders to take decisions.

Regional parties, he said, had become “inevitable” for the country. “In Tamil Nadu, it’s been 50 years. NT Rama Rao’s party is still there. Biju Janata Dal has won four times. Mamata has won two terms. Shiv Sena, Sharad Pawar...We didn’t do this for my family. We’ll keep this party alive,” he said.