Just two days after Narendra Modi grabbed headlines for warming up to JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda, the PM turned around to criticise the party and questioned why any intelligent person would vote for them.
Speaking at a rally in Kengeri in North Bengaluru, Modi threw caution to the winds and launched an attack on the JD(S). "All surveys and political experts are saying that JD(S) will be a distant number three in these elections. Now, JD(S) cannot form the govt, cannot remove Congress and cannot change the future of Karnataka. Why will any intelligent person of Karnataka vote for them and waste their vote?" he asked.
He further added, "JD(S) will lose the elections, nobody will give them any importance. But it has done a great disservice to the state. They have invited parties from other states, which support terrorism and other extremist and communal forces. They have invited such extremist and communal parties in their attempt to win elections."
JD(S) is touted to be the potential kingmaker in the triangular Karnataka election battle.
The Prime Minister's statements were in contrast to his warm praise of JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda during a rally in Udupi on Tuesday in which he called Deve Gowda the “son of the soil” and “respect worthy”.
Congress had previously launched a blistering attack against the JD(S). Party President Rahul Gandhi had called JD(S) 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.”
HD Deve Gowda speaking at a press conference in Bengaluru on Wednesday
In comparison, BJP has been far less critical of the JD(S) and Modi’s speech on Tuesday was seen by some poll observers a move in the same direction.
Political Science professor at the National Institute of Advanced Sciences, Narender Pani, opines Modi’s statement was made in the long term keeping in mind the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. “He is looking to get traditional JD(S) voters, so even if they're not voting for the BJP for this election the PM is attempting to get their votes in 2019,” he said.
Noted political analyst Muzaffar Assadi is however, of the opinion that this was Modi’s reaction to the apparent cold shoulder by the former PM and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda. “Understanding that Deve Gowda is not in favour of aligning with the BJP, PM Modi has now tried to play the rhetoric of ‘waste of vote’,” he said.
Deve Gowda, speaking to reporters in Bengaluru on Wednesday had 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 also clarified that it did not mean that the JD(S) would be joining hands with the BJP and questioned the PM over his silence on the Mahadayi issue.