Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundurao on Friday said his party wants JDS Supremo H D Deve Gowda to contest elections from Bengaluru North constituency.
“I spoke to Deve Gowda ji and requested him to contest from Bengaluru North constituency… Congress has five and JDS two MLAs, who can ensure his victory,” he told PTI. Gundurao said the former prime minister’s representation from Bengaluru North will have a huge impact in the region, given his stature in public life.
The 85-year-old JDS patriarch is yet to decide on contesting the Lok Sabha polls and has been thinking about his “usefulness” in the national capital. Gowda has said he lacked the strength that he had in 1996, when he became the Prime Minister, but there is “enthusiasm”.
Under a pact between ruling coalition partners for Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, Congress has been allotted 20 seats while eight sets will be contested by Janata Dal-Secular (JDS).
Asked if actor-turned-politician Sumalatha Ambareesh, wife of late actor and Congress leader Ambareesh, can pose a challenge to the coalition partners due to a possible sympathy wave, Gundurao said winning as an independent is difficult with JDS having a strong presence in state assembly, zilla panchayats and municipalities of Mandya district.
Sumalatha is contesting as an Independent after she was denied ticket by the Congress from Mandya seat which had been allotted to the JD(S).
Gundurao also said that the Congress would make extra effort to see that Nikhil Gowda, grandson of Deve Gowda, registers a win from Mandya constituency.
Asked about the BJP’s plan to make “instability” an electoral issue in Karnataka, Gundurao dismissed it as ridiculous saying Modi himself is leading a coalition government at the centre.
Also, the BJP is in alliance with NDA partners in several states including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Punjab, he said.
If Modi and BJP are against coalition, they should do away with it, he added.
Gundurao said there have been some hiccups in the coalition setup, but the government has been stable. “Congress-JDS alliance has given a stable government but unfortunately BJP has been making efforts to destabilise it by horse-trading,” he alleged.
Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state Congress chief alleged that Modi “is diverting people’s attention from real issues like failure of GST, demonetisation and joblessness, to emotional issues like Ram Mandir and nationalism”.
The dialogue of nationalism is very divisive and dangerous as it has already cut India into pieces on grounds of religion, ideologies and nationalism, he said.
“We are seeing people taking law onto their hands and killing people including rationalists M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh,” he said.
The Congress’ efforts will be to expose Modi in all these fronts, he added.
Asked if the BJP was in an advantageous position due to declaration of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, Gundurao said “the appropriate question is who should not be the prime minister as there are a huge number of people who do not want Modi to continue”.
“It will not be easy for the BJP to sell the fake success stories perpetrated in media and social platforms to the people because the truth is that almost all the schemes including Ujwala has not done anything good to them,” he claimed.
On the other hand, the Congress had helped people by implementing MREGA and bringing in legislations on food security and tribals right, besides Aadhaar, Gundurao added.
Rejecting suggestions that his offer to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to contest from Karnataka is due to any fear of loss in Amethi seat, Gundurao said it was aimed at strengthening the party in the south.
“There is no design in this. I wrote a letter to Rahul Gandhi suggesting he contest from Karnataka as it would strengthen the party in southern states and retrieve the lost charm from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Let us see what decision the party takes,” he said.
Gundurao said Rahul Gandhi would address two rallies each in the two phases of Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.