H D Deve Gowda’s ‘not now’ move keeps JD(S) in play

Bengaluru: This wily politician and a veteran of many a battle of ballots, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, declined to be pinned down about a post-poll alliance with BJP despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent comments in his favour, fuelling speculation that a possible coalition arrangement with the BJP after the announcement of results of May 12 Assembly polls on May 15 was still on the cards, despite his earlier claims to the contrary.

Asked if he would go with the BJP or the Congress in case of a fractured mandate, Mr Gowda who had said that he would throw his son H D Kumaraswamy out of the party if he allied with the BJP, said at an eagerly awaited press meet on Wednesday that he would not reply to a hypothetical question.

Taking umbrage at Mr Siddaramaiah calling the JD(S) the BJP's B-team, he claimed that it was the Chief Minister who wanted to join hands with the BJP in 2004 just to become CM.

"While he was in the JD(S), he even suggested to me that we should join hands with the BJP '' he charged. "But for the last two months he is desperately trying to prove that we are backing the BJP, just to swing the minority votes towards the Congress."

The JD (S) patriarch actively cautioned the media not to read too much into statements that PM Modi made while addressing an election rally in Udupi on Tuesday.

Mr Modi had praised the JD(S) patriarch as a respected politician and slammed the Congress leaders for their comments denigrating him and calling his party the 'B' team of the BJP. Participating in a `Meet the Press' programme organised by the Press Club of Bangalore and the Bengaluru Reporters' Guild, Mr Gowda lavished equal parts of praise and criticism on the prime minister whom he described as a very intelligent person, who always did his homework on what he should speak and where, while stressing that he did not help the state when he went to him with the Mahadayi issue. "Four years ago I had said I would resign from Parliament if Mr Modi became PM. 

When I met him after he became PM, I told him I would resign, but he asked me not to care so much about election statements and asked me to stay back as Parliament needed my guidance. However, when I went to him with a plea to intervene in the Mahadayi issue, he just listened and did not utter a word. After that I stopped meeting him,'' Mr Gowda added. 

He also recalled that when he was chairing a meeting of the Third Front, Mr Modi, who was in Darjeeling, called it "a third rate development", he said, "I have not forgotton that either." Referring to how Mr Modi brought up how shabbily he was treated by the Congress, he said, "I am a son of this soil and went on to become Prime Minister by accident." His anger against the chief minister is clearly growing, bringing up an incident which still rankles. "After I relinquished the Chief Minister's office in Karnataka in '96, my successor J H Patel, displayed my photograph in the Chief Minister's chamber. Several other Chief Ministers came and went, but did not touch that photo.  Mr Siddaramaiah threw it out.'' 

Asked about the progress made on forming the People's Front, the JD(S) leader said there were two streams of thought, one to keep both the Congress and BJP out of it and another to include the Congress, but keep the BJP away. "Mr Sitharam Yechury wants to include the Congress in the front, while others have reservations. We will have to wait and watch what happens. I will only be playing an advisory role,'' he explained.

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