Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former PM HD Deve Gowda in New DelhiPrime Minister Narendra Modi with former PM HD Deve Gowda in New Delhi.
Having convinced both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that a BJP-JD(S) tie up in the May 2024 Lok Sabha elections would be “a win-win alliance” for both the parties, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda himself is reportedly getting ready to contest the polls to enter the parliament “one last time”.
Sources told India Narrative that Deve Gowda, who turned 91 on May 1 this year, is determined to put the parivar-dominated party he founded in 1999 which suffered its worst defeat in the recently-concluded Assembly polls, back on the rails before he bows out.
Gowda active again
“During Assembly polls three months ago, his frail health did not permit him to go out on campaigning during elections, which he had meticulously done for over six decades. He was extremely pained when the JD(S) managed to win only 19 seats and his grandson, Nikhil Kumaraswamy failed to make it to the Assembly, a second blow after losing the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He has become active all over again as he does not want to see his party withering way in front of his eyes,” said a close aide of Deve Gowda.
In another setback to his parivar, another grandson, Prajwal Revanna, who was the lone JD(S) MP elected from Hassan in 2019, was unseated by the Karnataka High Court late last month for “inadequate disclosure” of his wealth. Prajwal’s application for suspending the sentence is before the court, but if his disqualification is upheld, he may be barred from contesting elections for six years.
BJP for alliance
Nagged by uncertainties, Deve Gowda, having sent feelers to the BJP, jumped at a call from Modi a few days ago, met him at Delhi and had no hesitation in agreeing to a seat-sharing formula with the BJP. The decisive loss to the Congress in the last Assembly polls made the BJP also to warm up to the idea of an alliance with the JD(S).
At a JD(S) rally in Bengaluru on Sunday, both Deve Gowda and his son, HD Kumaraswamy confirmed the alliance. Kumaraswamy told the party workers that he was determined to rebuild the JD(S) and along with BJP would expose the ‘misdeeds’ of the Siddaramaiah government. He accused the state Congress leaders of pressurising the builders to contribute Rs 2,000 crore to the “party’s election fund.”
In 2019, the BJP won an unprecedented 25 out of 28 seats, leaving just one each to the Congress, the JD(S) and independent candidate Sumalatha, who had BJP’s backing. JD(S) is pressing for seven to eight seats, but may finally settle for about five seats. Considering that it did poorly in the Old Mysuru area, which is a Vokkaliga-dominated region, the BJP appears to be ready to hand over Hassan, Kolar, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur and Tumakuru to the JD(S). There is bound to be considerable discussion over Mandya, currently represented by Sumalatha, but the JD(S) is very keen to grab.
Sumalatha has had a few rounds of discussions with Amit Shah and she has indicated her willingness to join the BJP. If push comes to shove, she may be shifted to Bengaluru North, denying ticket to former minister Sadananda Gowda, whose stock has come down lately.
Gowda’s last wish
Deve Gowda may choose to contest from Hassan, which he has represented four times and lost twice, if Prajwal is unable to reclaim it. Gowda is sentimentally attached to Hassan where he began his political career, and has reportedly told his associates that, “my last wish is to die as Hassan’s mannina maga (son of the soil).”
The Congress has called it a “marriage of convenience” which would have no impact on the electoral outcome. Deputy chief minister and KPCC president DK Shivakumar has promised his party satraps that he would deliver “at least 20 seats from Karnataka.” But, the BJP-JD(S) alliance is bound to puncture his plans as the prime minister has a great following in Karnataka. Besides, there is disenchantment among the people as the much-touted “guarantees” are tottering and the development activities have come to a grinding halt.