In a departure from his earlier stance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday in a rally in Udupi called Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch HD Deve Gowda the “son of the soil” and “respect worthy”.
In previous elections, the two leaders have often traded barbs at one another.
“Our former PM, the son of this soil Deve Gowda … 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. In terms of politics, our views are opposite,” Modi said, addressing BJP supporters in Udupi in his second rally of the day.
Earlier, he had spoken in Chamarajanagara in Old Mysuru region and he is set to address his third and final rally of the day in Belagavi on Tuesday evening.
PM Modi’s this statement is significant as it comes just after former PM HD Deve Gowda had announced that he would disown his son HD Kumaraswamy if he aligns with the BJP in case of a hung Assembly as projected by many opinion polls. Expectedly, both the BJP and JD(S) expressed confidence of forming a majority government on its own in the run up to the polls and denied the probability of a post-poll alliance.
In his speech, Modi also attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi, saying, “The way Rahul Gandhi talked about him recently is shameful … If a person is so arrogant when he is so young, how bad will be the future when he grows up?”
PM Modi was referring to Rahul Gandhi’s statement of calling the JD(S) as the B-team of the BJP. In another instance, the Congress leader, in a rally in Mandya in late March, said, “Earlier 'S' in JD(S) stood for secular, but in this election they have got a new name - Janata Dal Sangh Parivar.”
PM Modi’s statement on Tuesday is a clear departure from his earlier statements on the JD(S), which is touted to be the potential kingmaker in the triangular Karnataka election battle.
In an election rally in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi had mocked Deve Gowda’s statement that he would quit the state if BJP forms the Union government.
Modi had then said, "You are the former Prime Minister and I am like your son. If it has become difficult for you to stay here, I pray you don't worry; I will extend all facilities in Gujarat for you.”
He added while addressing a rally in Chikkaballapur on April 13, 2014, “If you want to stay in an old-age home, if you want to take a home there, if you want to stay in a farmhouse and if you want to stay with me, I will serve you more than your son. Please accept my invitation. I am ready to serve you."
Even when Deve Gowda’s son, HD Kumaraswamy, helped the BJP come to power in the state on a previous occasion by forming an alliance with the party, the two leaders couldn’t see eye-to-eye.
“My image has been tarnished by my son. The worst sufferer is Deve Gowda and his secular party,” he told Economic Times once.