At 90 years of age, his health didn’t allow him to tour the state with the JD(S)’s Pancharathna Ratha Yatre. But when he began his speech at the yatra’s finale in Mysuru, party patriarch HD Deve Gowda showed that he had much political fight left in him.
The JD(S) event at Uttanahalli in Mysuru on Monday, 27 March, marked the conclusion of the four-month-long Pancharathna Ratha Yatre — the JD(S)’s big outreach to the people — and attracted over a lakh of people who flocked primarily to hear the former prime minister.
Seated on an ornate wooden chair that was rolled in using specially laid tracks, Deve Gowda delivered a thunderous speech that minced no words in decrying the BJP’s politics of hate and divisiveness.
“JD(S) does not believe in dividing people in the name of caste and religion. We will not make an effort to come to power by making colourful speeches and lying,” Deve Gowda hit out at the BJP, calling the saffron party out for “adopting the divide-and-rule policy of the erstwhile British rulers”.
Since the Pancharathna Ratha Yatre was launched in November 2022, Deve Gowda has been unable to participate in a single event due to health and other reasons. In his first appearance at the culmination ceremony of the yatra, Deve Gowda was in his element as he reprimanded the BJP governments at the Centre and in Karnataka.
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“In the pre-Independence era, the erstwhile British rulers used to divide-and-rule and cause animosity among caste and religions, which was unethical,” he said.
“In the last few decades, political parties have continued such practices across the country. Even in recent days, I am observing such unwanted developments. The lies might work for a few days, but will not prevail in the long-run,” Deve Gowda said, noting that the country was built by great saints, sages and leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.
Vokkaliga leader takes pride in Tipu, Basavanna alike
At a time the incumbent BJP has been propping up two fictional Vokkaliga characters — Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda — to subvert Tipu Sultan’s legacy, Deve Gowda — without doubt the most respected Vokkaliga political leader in Karnataka — in one swift line, countered the narrative.
The former prime minister said he was born in a land where Basavanna, Kempegowda, Sir M Vishveshwaraiah, Tipu Sultan, Kanakadas and Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar were born.
“I have never done anything to bring disrepute to Karnataka. I have always asked for votes by clearly presenting my plans and delivering them when I came to power,” he said.
“I have never chanted the mantra of chauvinism; instead my mantra was always development. In my over seven-decade-long political career, I have never betrayed any people,” he added in a swipe at the tall promises made by other parties.
“I have strived for the upliftment and development of all the castes and religions during my tenure. I am gratified with whatever works I have carried out in the last seven decades of my political career,” Deve Gowda said, often sounding emotional during his speech.
‘Pious’ Deve Gowda puts faith in God
Deve Gowda assured the people that his party would deliver all the promises that were made during the 90-day-long ratha yatra.
He said: “I grew in politics only with the blessings of people and party workers and with the grace of God. My health has been upset recently, I feared I would not be able to participate in this mega event. However, God has blessed me and I could take part in this culmination ceremony.”
“I believe that God has some good plans ahead. I am part of his plans and you (people) are my strength. This will indicate that our party will make big gains in the coming polls,” Deve Gowda, said exuding confidence that the JD(S) would do well in the coming Assembly polls.
Applauding his son Kumaraswamy for successfully concluding this ratha yatra, he said: “I saw Kumaraswamy working around the clock regardless of his health and the amount of support people showered on him in the last few months.”
“There is no doubt that Kumaraswamy will deliver the promises he made in Pancharathna Ratha Yatre as soon as he comes to power. Amidst all the difficulties and hurdles, he waived farm loans and carried out numerous development works.”
HDK hits out at BJP
In his speech at the valedictory event, Kumaraswamy came down heavily on the ruling BJP government.
Taking exception to the frequent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Karnataka, Kumaraswamy said: “As polls are nearing, the prime minister is frequently visiting the state. He is inaugurating and laying the foundation stones for many works, but did not bother to visit the state when it was reeling under difficulty.”
“Modi is making frequent visits to Karnataka, but did not visit even once when the entire state was under floods. This shows how much the Modi government is concerned about the state,” fumed Kumaraswamy.
Taking a dig at the Bommai government, the former chief minister said: “As many as 26 farmers committed suicide over crop loss in North Karnataka but he did even bother to call the aggrieved families.”
“The conspiracy behind taking away reservation of religious minorities and giving it to Vokkaligas and Lingayats is to divide society. It is unconstitutional,” said Kumaraswamy, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community.
Development for all
Elaborating about his Pancharathna Ratha Yatre programmes, the former chief minister said: “The Pancharatna schemes will bring a golden era to the people of Karnataka. If the party comes to power, a capital of ₹2.5 lakh crore will be raised to implement the assured Pancharathna programmes and other welfare measures.”
“The party will not depend on the Union government for the grants to implement the programmes promised in Pancharathna. We will also announce fair prices for all the agrarian produce,” Kumaraswamy said, reiterating that his party is committed to the development of the state.
He also clarified that there is no confusion over issuing tickets in Hassan and Mandya. “The party will release the second list at the earliest,” added Kumaraswamy.
JD(S) state president CM Ibrahim, MLA HD Revanna, MP Prajwal Revanna and other party leaders were present at the mega event.
The regional party had launched the ratha yatra at Mulbagal in Kolar on 18 November, 2022. The 90-day long yatra passed through a total of 88 Assembly seats in 25 districts.
JD(S) leader and former chief minister Kumaraswamy spearheaded this rathayatre in all the regions of Karnataka.
Before the start of the valedictory ceremony, Deve Gowda and his family and party leaders offered prayers at Mysuru’s Chamundeshwari Temple.