‘Show me one party not associated with BJP,’ says ex-PM HD Deve Gowda in first hint at JD(S)-BJP alliance

The former prime minister is not enthused about the ongoing efforts to forge an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 07, 2023 | 8:30 AMUpdatedJun 07, 2023 | 8:30 AM

JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda not cheerful about the ongoing efforts to forge the anti-BJP front, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. (Supplied)

With his party biting the dust in the recently-concluded Karnataka Assembly elections, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda seems to be warming up to the idea of establishing friendly ties with the BJP.

In the first-of-its-kind hint of his party — the JD(S) — not being averse to an alliance with the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Deve Gowda said he wasn’t sure which party was communal, and insisted that every single party in India has had associations with the BJP — directly or indirectly.

Pointing to the presence of strong regional parties in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, the JD(S) supremo called on cadres to strive towards strengthening and nurturing the party by giving more strength to youth in Karnataka.

Deve Gowda, now 91, was addressing his first press conference after the results of the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls — which were announced on 13 May.

This was at the party headquarters in Bengaluru on Tuesday, 6 June.

He had also chaired the meeting of party leaders to discuss the JD(S)’s performance in the Assembly polls, organising and strengthening the party, and the restructuring of taluk and district units wherever necessary ahead of the upcoming Zilla, Taluk and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) polls; and preparation for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Still ready to work

“I am 91 and I’m also ready to work with you. I call on all party leaders, especially youths, to work towards building the party and prepare for the polls,” said Deve Gowda.

“I have advised the constitution of a high-level committee with representation from all communities for strengthening the party,” he added.

“I don’t want to speak about the Congress or the BJP or the promises they made or about their implementation. What is before us is the upcoming elections. We will not sit quietly,” said Deve Gowda, indicating that the party had kick-started preparations for the polls.

In the recently-concluded Karnataka Assembly elections, the JD(S) recorded its worst performance in the last two decades, winning a mere 19 seats, down from 37 in the 2018 polls.

Also read: JD(S) points to various factors for Karnataka poll defeat

Solidification of cadre in rural Karnataka

After the party’s debacle in the Assembly polls, JD(S) veteran Deve Gowda appealed to the party workers to strive to expand and solidify its base in rural Karnataka and Bengaluru, ahead of the upcoming Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat, BBMP, and 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

“The priority is to identify our strengths in the district, taluk, and corporation polls. After that, we will look at Lok Sabha polls. We will contest wherever we can, based on our strengths. We had a tie-up with the RSP and Communist parties. Our leaders will decide in this regard,” said Deve Gowda.

Asked whether he would contest in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the former prime minister said, “I am 91-year-old now and that question does not arise.”

He added: “How many candidates will be fielded for MP elections and from where, all those things will be decided later.”

Deve Gowda also said: “The JD(S) has to start preparing for the BBMP polls, and the party has to identify candidates in the places where we were not fielding.”

He added: “I am ready to travel wherever the party asks me to go for organising and building. There is no question of me sitting idle.”

The party is expected to rejig its organisation after its poor performance in the Assembly polls.

Also read: Congress used gift cards to bribe voters, says Kumaraswamy

‘Cadres are our strength’ 

On Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s efforts to forge an anti-BJP front at the national level, Deve Gowda said: “I can analyse this country’s politics in detail. What is the use? Show me one party which has not been associated with the BJP, either directly or indirectly. Show me one party in the whole country. Then will I give my answer.”

He added: “I have seen it [the prevailing political atmosphere in the country] as prime minister, chief minister, and as a Member of Parliament. What happened in Maharashtra? I can quote several incidents.”

Refusing to comment on a query about leading or joining a front against the BJP at the request of like-minded parties, Gowda said, “Who is communal, who is not communal, I don’t know. First of all, the definition of communal and non-communal — it can be enlarged, then the scope is big…”

Some news reports claimed on Monday that the JD(S) would enter into an alliance with the BJP to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Deve Gowda said: “I and my party would not pay attention to such things. There are a variety of things, we are not going to pay attention to it.”

He added: “Our karyakartas (cadres) are our strength. By unifying and encouraging them, we will have to work towards strengthening the regional party, save it, and move ahead.”