A former ‘secular’ ally leans towards Modi’s BJP ahead of 2024 general elections, snubs opposition unity
Recently, Deve Gowda defended railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw after he faced a backlash following a deadly train accident in the eastern state of Odisha.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi with former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda in New Delhi in December 2022. (ANI Photo)
Stunned by a dismal performance in the recently held elections in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular), one of the state’s major political players, is reportedly tilting towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of prime minister Narendra Modi ahead of the general elections next year.
JD(S), which has in its ranks one of India’s former prime ministers HD Deve Gowda, had an equally disastrous show in the 2019 general polls when it could bag only one seat in Karnataka, and sent feelers to the saffron party after the results in the state came out last month. The JD(S) had challenged the BJP, which was previously in power in Karnataka, along with the Indian National Congress but failed to impress even as the BJP lost power to the Congress. The JD(S) could win only 19 seats in the 224-strong assembly in the southern state.
The NDTV said in a report that the party, led by Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy, a former chief minister of the state, has assessed a chance to defeat the Congress in the state and regain its vote base if it join hands with the BJP, with which it had a tie-up in the past.
The JD(S) and BJP formed a coalition government in Karnataka in 2006 with Kumaraswamy as the chief minister and the saffron party’s BS Yediyurapp as his deputy under a 20-month power-sharing formula. The coalition did not last as the JD(S) refused to transfer power to the BJP.
A number of factors have suggested that the JD(S) is showing an inclination towards the BJP.
Recently, Deve Gowda, who served as the prime minister for less than a year between June 1996 and April 1997 and is currently a parliamentarian, defended railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw after he faced a backlash following a deadly train accident in the eastern state of Odisha which killed almost 280 people and left more than 1,000 injured. As Vaishnaw faced demand for resignation, Deve Gowda, 90, said the minister was doing his best after the disaster and seeking his resignation at such a stage was not right.
Deve Gowda also attended the inauguration of India’s new parliament building by Modi, an event which was avoided by a number of opposition parties.
He also took a dig at efforts of Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of the eastern state of Bihar, to forge a unity of non-BJP parties ahead of next year’s big elections, suggesting all parties have associated with the BJP in some way or the other.
The BJP also did its bit as Modi and other leaders of the party showered birthday praises on his predecessor in May.