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HomePoliticsFormer Congress ally Deve Gowda ‘appreciates’ Rahul’s march but won't attend Srinagar...

Former Congress ally Deve Gowda ‘appreciates’ Rahul’s march but won’t attend Srinagar finale

JD(S), Congress are bitter rivals in Karnataka, especially in the Vokkaliga belt of Old Mysuru, despite at least two state-level alliances which further soured their relations.

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Bengaluru: The Rahul Gandhi-led “Bharat Jodo Yatra” may not politically bring anti-BJP parties together, but has certainly emerged as a platform for former alliance partners to appreciate the Congress’ four-month-long outreach exercise.

The Yatra that began on 7 September from Kanyakumari will end 3,500 kilometres away in Srinagar on 30 January.

Gandhi has invited the heads of 21 parties to celebrate the march’s culmination, among whom is former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) President H.D. Deve Gowda.

While he won’t be able to attend the Srinagar concluding meet, Deve Gowda thanked Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge for inviting him, and conveyed his “deep appreciation” for the Yatra in which Gandhi has walked “the length of the nation for harmony”.

He further wrote in the letter to Kharge: “I may not be able to attend the function in person, but my best wishes are with Shri Rahul Gandhi. He is fighting hatred and violence and has walked 3500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir spreading the message of harmony among people.”

The JD(S) and the Congress are bitter rivals in Karnataka, especially in the Vokkaliga belt of Old Mysuru, despite at least two state-level alliances which further soured their relations.

The two parties last joined hands after the fractured verdict in the 2018 elections but this trouble-ridden alliance led to their decimation in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, after at least 17 legislators defected to the BJP.

However, old-school politicians in Karnataka are known for their relationships beyond party ideologies. Gowda, S.M. Krishna, Kharge, B.S. Yediyurappa and Siddaramaiah among others, have  individual equations that transcend party lines.

In Karnataka’s volatile political climate, coalition-building is a key quality of such senior leaders.

Gowda-led JD(S) is also an active partner of Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samiti (formerly Telangana Rashtra Samiti) that is aiming to build a federal front of all regional parties as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress.

KCR, in turn, is helping the JD(S) mobilise support in the north-eastern districts of Karnataka that is home to a large Telugu-speaking population.

Incidentally, Deve Gowda’s sons H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna have criticised the Congress in a recent JD(S) rally held to campaign for the imminent state polls.

On Monday, Kumaraswamy even challenged the Congress to a debate on who was the “B Team” of the BJP.


Also read: How BJP’s Bommai gamble threatens to backfire in Karnataka — caste anger, corruption, ‘no control’


 

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