"Earlier 'S' in JD(S) stood for secular but in this election they have got a new name JDS- Janata Dal Sangh Parivar. This is a face-off between two ideologies -- on one side BJP and RSS and on the other the Congress. In between there is third party which is the B team of BJP that is JD (S). I will tell you. Let BJP's A team, B team or C team come together. Congress party is going to win this election," Rahul Gandhi thundered at Malavalli, in Mandya district.
The Congress President's Rahul Gandhi's jibe dubbing the Janata Dal (Secular) as the Janata Dal 'Sangh Parivar' party has not gone down well with the JD(S).
The party's Chief Ministerial candidate HD Kumaraswamy has hit back asking Rahul Gandhi to consider his own party's views on secularism before commenting on others.
Rahul Gandhi made the comment while addressing party workers in Mandya, considered JD(S)'s bastion in the state, a region where it is the primary challenger to ruling Congress.
"While he is saying JD(S) is not a secular party, he should first look into his own party and ask himself whether Congress is a secular party. Secularism that I have believed so far is having faith and respect for oneâ€™s religious beliefs while retaining equal respect for other religions. However the secularism you believe is in appeasing minorities for the sake of votes while overlooking them for centuries assuming that they are in your pocket. Today, your party is on the verge of extinction because of your behaviour of ignoring the majority," Kumaraswamy said.
He also added that he had no doubt that the "BJP was going to get rid of the Congress" in the upcoming elections.
He further questioned why Congress aligned with the JD(S) in Bengaluru civic body BBMP if it believed that JD(S) was not secular. "Is JD(S) not a secular party? If so, resign from power in the BBMP since you are holding it with the support of our party. Tell us what your stance is on the alliance you have made with the JD(S) in the BBMP. Did you not win with our support in Nanjangud and Gundlupete? Let the elected representatives resign there," he said.
Cut out posters en-route the JD(S) rally held in Bengaluru in February 2017
Gandhi's jibe comes just weeks before the state state is set to go to polls. While the BJP has maintained a studied silence on the topic of aligning with JD(S), Gandhi in contrast has launched a blistering attack on the party this week.
The JD(S) has already joined hands with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) headed by Mayawati. The two parties signed a pre-poll alliance in February and Mayawati shared the dais with JD(S) leaders in a public rally held in Bengaluru. The party also jumped ahead of the Congress and BJP in becoming the first party to release its list of candidates for the state assembly elections.
In the past, the party has aligned with the Congress to form Karnataka's first ever coalition government in 2004. But mid-way through the term, it broke its coalition with the Congress and decided to forge an alliance with the BJP and formed a government making HD Kumaraswamy the Chief Minister. Incidentally, this led to Deve Gowda quitting as the party's national president protesting his son's move to join "communal forces".
The JD(S) will play a key role in the upcoming elections especially in the event of a hung assembly and it remains to be seen whether it will align with Congress or the BJP post polls.
The Election Commission announced earlier today that the polls will be held on May 12, 2018 while counting of votes will take place on May 15, 2018.