His party’s strength in the Lok Sabha may be in single digits but JD(S) patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda is not letting his numbers come in the way of promising “complete support” for Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for the Prime Minister’s post, and “building a strong secular force in the country to counter communal BJP.”
In fact while campaigning for Ballari Congress candidate V.S. Ugrappa on Tuesday, the former PM went to the extent of declaring that any discussion on formation of an anti-BJP coalition government in 2019 would be incomplete without Mr Gandhi’s candidature for the top post.
Mr Gowda who was flanked by senior Congress leaders, told the media: “My party fully extends support to Rahul Gandhi for the PM post after the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.” He spoke of the Mahagathbandhan of regional parties-before and after the Lok Sabha elections next year, but was categorical that the Congress would play a critical role in forging such unity as well as in the formation of the new government. “I am ready to intervene to build a strong secular force to counter the communal BJP”, he added.
The former PM, however, ducked a question on senior Congress leader Mr P Chidambaram’s statement that the party has not “officially” announced Mr Gandhi as the PM candidate saying “He (Mr Chidambaram) is a senior leader, and I don’t want to react to his statement”.
He acknowledged the role of TDP chief Chandra Babu Naidu’s efforts to knit a coalition of regional parties, adding that Mr Naidu had played a key role in formation of the National Front government which he (Mr Gowda) headed in 1996. When asked whether BSP led by Ms Mayawati, and SP led by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav would join a coalition with Congress as one of the partners, he said “Today, Mayawati is with us (JDS) in Karnataka. Tomorrow, she may come along with JD (S) and Congress in Uttar Pradesh too. Political circumstances may arise to bring BSP, SP and Congress together and in that scenario, I’m ready to intervene to build a strong secular force in the country to counter communal BJP.”