Amidst allegations by the Congress party that JD(S) is the ‘B-team’ of the BJP in the upcoming Karnataka polls, JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda dismissed the lavish praise heaped on him by Prime Minister Modi recently.
Speaking at a press conference in Bengaluru on Wednesday, Deve Gowda said, "He (Modi) understands what is happening in Karnataka. He knows exactly what to say in each state he visits. He said he used to come receive me at my car and then drop me back when I went to visit him. There is nothing special in that and there is no need to take any meaning out of this.” He clarified that it did not mean that the JD(S) would be joining hands with the BJP.
The JD(S) chief questioned PM Modi's silence on various issues, including the Mahadayi dispute. "He spoke at a rally in Belagavi. Could he not have spoken at least one word about Mahadayi? Did he speak anything about farmers? No. From this we can understand his character," he said.
At a rally in Udupi on Tuesday, PM Modi had praised Deve Gowda, and said that he respected the former PM.
“Our former PM Deve Gowda is the son of this soil. There might be political differences between parties, but civility and respect should be maintained. Whenever he came to Delhi and asked for my time, I met him. Not only that, when he comes home, I go out and open his car door and welcome him. And when he leaves, I drop him till the door of his car and ensure that he sits in it,” Modi said, adding that, “In terms of politics, our views are opposite.”
Modi's statement was a clear departure from his earlier statements on the JD(S), and it comes just days ahead of the polls in which JD(S) is touted to be the kingmaker.
Rahul Gandhi had earlier called the JD(S) the B-team of the BJP. At a rally in Mandya, Gandhi had said, “Earlier, the 'S' in JD(S) stood for secular, but now they have got a new name - Janata Dal Sangh Parivar.”
Deve Gowda however steered clear of answering a question on whether the JD(S) will align with the BJP or the Congress in the event of a hung assembly. He had told NDTV on Sunday, "If it happens (Kumaraswamy forming a government with the BJP in the event of a hung assembly), I and my wife and family will totally boycott him."
While he questioned Modi and the BJP on several issues, he also took aim at the Congress party. When questioned about BJP bringing the Reddy brothers back into the party, he deftly replied, "There are the Reddy brothers in BJP, Ashok Kheny in Congress. Both are on the same footing."
"The difference between Yeddyurappa and Siddaamaiah is that Siddaramaiah is smarter. He brought in the Anti-Corruption Bureau," he quipped.
Speaking about the party's pre-poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Deve Gowda said that the decision was taken to bolster the party’s strength. "In the last elections, we had only one star-campaigner - HD Kumaraswamy - and we managed to get 40 seats, while also coming close to winning in several other seats. This time around, to bolster the party's candidates, we have aligned with the BSP and have Mayawati too campaigning for us," he said.
Despite the grandstanding at the press conference, a JD(S) source said that the party was open to all possibilities in a post-poll scenario.