Bengaluru: JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda on Wednesday sought to play down Prime Minister Narendra Modi praise of him at an election rally in Karnataka. He said that PM's praising him did not mean that both parties were cosying up to each other.
Gowda also slammed Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for suggesting that his party would back BJP. He claimed that it was Siddaramaiah who wanted to become CM in 2004 with the saffron party's support when he was in the JD(S).
Virtually endorsing PM Modi's criticism of Rahul Gandhi for having 'insulted' him, Gowda also said a Kannadiga had become PM and Siddaramaiah tried to "demolish" Kannadigas' pride. "This is how Congress gives respect to Kannada pride," he said addressing a press conference, PTI reported.
Gowda was the PM heading the United Front government at the Centre during 1996-97. He asserted JD(S) would come back to power in the May 12 polls and discounted possibility of a hung Assembly.
"Maybe, by praising me, he (the PM) wants to gain sympathy. That is all. That does not mean there is an understanding (between BJP and JDS)," he said, adding, "In fact, the JD(S) is confident of forming the government on its own with the cooperation of TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, Chandrasekhar Rao (TRS) and other friends in the political arena. I do not expect a hung Assembly. I have been saying this and I will say this again, we are confident of forming a government on our own."
Attacking Siddaramaiah, Gowda said he "wanted to be the CM with the support of BJP when he was in my party in 2004. I said no. Now Siddaramaiah is spreading this that I will support BJP," he said. He was responding to a query on Karnataka CM's remarks that the JD(S) and BJP have a tacit understanding for the elections.
The 2004 Assembly polls had thrown up a fractured verdict with the BJP emerging as the single largest party. Congress, which lost power, and JD(S) had formed a coalition government then. It collapsed after Gowda's son HD Kumaraswamy joined hands with BJP and formed an alternative government with it.
Gowda further said that JD(S) has only joined hands with BSP which will make things easier for the party to gain votes in 20 places. "This alliance will continue in Lok Sabha elections too. Other than this, we have not tied up with any national party," he said.
Here's what PM Modi had said:
We have had political differences with Deve Gowda Ji but there is no denying that he is among India’s most respected leaders.
The language Congress leaders have used for Deve Gowda Ji is shocking. There is no place for such language in a democracy. pic.twitter.com/g6l3Rom4Hn
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 1, 2018
At an election rally in Udupi on Tuesday, PM Modi had lashed out at Rahul for 'insulting' Gowda, saying it showed his 'arrogance'. Showering praise on the former PM, he had said Gowda was one of the most respected and tallest leaders for whom he had great respect.
"But I heard the Congress president speak at political rallies 15-20 days ago. The way he referred to respected Deve Gowda ji, is this your culture (sanskar)? This is arrogance. Your life (as Congress chief) has just begun. Deve Gowda is among the tallest leaders of the country. You are insulting him," PM Modi had said.
He was alluding to Rahul's speeches at his rallies in JD(S) strongholds where he had attacked Gowda and had called his party the 'B team' of the BJP.
PM Modi's remarks assume significance as they come after most pollsters have predicted a fractured verdict in the Assembly elections, with no party attaining a majority on its own.
Siddaramaiah has often accused the BJP and JD(S) of having a tacit understanding and has even claimed that Kumaraswamy had met the saffron party chief Amit Shah, a charge dismissed by the JD(S).
(With PTI inputs)