Bengaluru: Former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda showed remarkable suppleness on International Yoga Day — at least in terms of his statements.
First, he said he could see mid-term elections around the corner in Karnataka, and that the fate of Karnataka’s coalition government was in his ally Congress’ hands. He also stated that he had been opposed to the coalition when it was formed last year.
“I am not sure how long this coalition will last, and it seems to me that mid-term polls are imminent. People are witness to all the developments and I am also keeping a close watch,” he told reporters in Bengaluru Friday. “We are leaving it to the Congress to decide on the longevity of the government.”
Then, within two hours, he had flip-flopped, saying he had been referring to local body elections, and certainly not the assembly elections.
“I’ve said local body elections, not about the assembly. I’m here to build my party. As (chief minister and Deve Gowda’s son) Kumaraswamy mentioned, the government will continue for the next four years,” he said.
But the wily politician had made his point — that the decision to remain in the coalition or not was entirely up to the Congress, because it was the Congress that initiated the arrangement. JD(S) sources say it was Deve Gowda’s way of telling the Congress high command that all was not well within the coalition.
Deve Gowda’s statement is being seen as a reaction to former chief minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s reported statement during his visit to Delhi that coalition with the JD(S) was causing more harm than good.
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Senior JD(S) leader Y.S.V. Datta summed the situation up by saying: “We are mentally prepared for the elections. If the Congress decides to go ahead with the coalition, we are ready to take it forward; if they decide they want to part ways, we should be prepared to go back to the people. Let Siddaramaiah decide.”
Another senior JD(S) leader, on the condition of anonymity, said Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s statement that his party would go by Siddaramaiah’s suggestion whenever a major decision needs to be taken has irked the top JD(S) leadership.
“We have put our effort to ensure that this coalition remains stable. Let’s wait and see what advice Siddaramaiah has and then we will take a call,” the leader said.
Congress taken aback
Deve Gowda’s original statement left the Congress embarrassed and taken aback. Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao told ThePrint that rather than concentrating on “such minor issues”, the JD(S) should focus on administration and tackle the drought that is hurting the state.
“We have given unconditional support to Kumaraswamy and we are abiding by it. We have taken steps to strengthen the government and recently we even expanded the cabinet. Let this not be used as a diversionary tactic,” Rao said.
Impact on Kumaraswamy’s village-stay programme
CM Kumaraswamy has just begun his Grama Vastavya (village stay) programme to re-connect with people of the state, and his father’s remark may have a ripple effect on this tour.
Kumaraswamy was quick to clarify his father’s original statement, saying it was “misinterpreted”. However, he has also been making statements saying he is hurt with the constant finger-pointing at his government.
“I am pained every single day… I will not be able to reveal the reason, but despite it, I have been running the government,” an emotional Kumaraswamy had said in Bengaluru on 19 June.
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