Deve Gowda rules out JD(S)-BJP merger , says focus is on building party

Focus is on party revamp, he says

Spiking speculation about his party’s merger with the BJP, former Prime Minister and JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda said on Saturday that his focus was on keeping the regional party alive and on trying to take it to power on its “own strength” in the 2023 Assembly elections.

Breaking his silence on the issue at a press conference, he dismissed the talk of merger as an “entertainment programme”. “We will focus on building the party. Regional parties are inevitable, not just for Karnataka but for the country,” he said, citing examples in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

“We are not anxious to remove B.S. Yediyurappa from power. My priority is to build the party,” he said, when asked about allegations of his party “going soft” on the ruling BJP.

Mr. Gowda dropped hints of his son and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy taking greater control of the party after Sankranti. “He has ideas and he will take them forward after January 15,” he said.

Mega rally planned

This will be preceded by a mega rally on January 7 at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. “Those who are loyal to the party will come and the others won’t. This meeting will reveal it all,” he said.

The JD(S) will have a core committee in place with 8-9 leaders and will discuss revamping the party after January 15. “We do not want to concentrate power. It will be a collective responsibility,” he said.

During a press conferences replete with potshots at the Congress and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, often without citing his name, Mr. Gowda bristled at his secular credentials being called into question. Saying that he had not gone to anyone asking for his son to be made Chief Minister after the 2018 elections, he added, “I invited all the secular leaders of the country for the swearing-in to give strength to the Congress. Who destroyed it?”

Recalling Rahul Gandhi calling the JD(S) the “B-team of the BJP” in Hassan, he said that statement had cost the Congress dear. “You made the man, a future Prime Minister, call us the BJP B-team. What was its impact? How did your strength come down to 78?” asked Mr. Gowda.

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