Bengaluru: Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah went on the offensive and spewed fire and brimstone on Friday at JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda for holding him responsible for the downfall of the coalition government in Karnataka.
“The charges are false, baseless, politically-motivated and unscrupulous,” Siddaramaiah told media persons in Bengaluru. In almost an hour-long press conference, he rebutted the charges of Deve Gowda, his bete noir, point by point and also indicated that the former Prime Minister has made the allegations to please someone. What he did not say was that it was aimed at pleasing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was replying to charges as his silence would have sent a wrong meaning.
The former Chief Miinster said that the government fell because of the Deve Gowda and his sons. Many ministers and legislators have blamed former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, former Minister H D Revanna and Deve Gowda for the fall of the government. They did not take legislators into confidence and the legislators rebelled against the government. He alleged that Kumaraswamy did not implement decisions taken at the coordination committee after agreeing to them in the meetings.
He managed five years as the Chief Minister and there was no problem at that time. He also did not interfere in the affairs of the government, Siddaramaiah claimed. The JD(S) is called the father-sons party in Karnataka as all key decisions are taken by the family only.
A livid Siddaramaiah alleged that Deve Gowda was an expert in bringing down governments and cited the examples of the then Chief Ministers late Dharam Singh and late S R Bommai losing power. He said that Deve Gowda lost his Prime Ministership as he tried to fix the then Congress President Sitaram Kesari. He said Deve Gowda resorts to gimmicks like crying and playing caste politics.
He ridiculed the claim of Deve Gowda that Siddaramaiah wanted B S Yediyurappa to become the Chief Minister and the CLP leader to occupy Leader of the Opposition chair. “I have never heard a ridiculous charge like this. I can understand unseating someone to become the Chief Minister. I have never been after power,” he added.
He pointed out that Kumaraswamy himself had admitted on the floor of the Assembly that he had once ensured that Siddaramaiah did not become the Chief Minister.
Siddaramaiah, who was with the JD(S) earlier, said he knew inside out of Deve Gowda. The former Prime Minister never allowed leaders from his own caste—Vokkaliga—to grow. His only contribution is allowing his family members to prosper.
Referring to Deve Gowda’s charge on Lok Sabha election results, he said people were angry as three members from the same family—Deve Gowda and his two grandsons, Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna– were fighting the elections. The Congress-JD(S) leaders did conduct joint campaigns. He had favoured a friendly fight in the Lok Sabha elections as workers at the grassroots level have been fighting local bodies elections as rivals for a long time. However, he admitted that they had fought a bitter battle in 2018 Assembly elections as they were rivals then and there was no pre-poll understanding.
He claimed that the Congress strived its best to keep up the promise of the High Command to extend support to the coalition government to complete the five-year term. He said he would never stoop to low-level politics to gain power. He maintained that he had not demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged telephone tapping.
He also hinted that Deve Gowda was moving towards the BJP by blaming him and also saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were not behind the decision. It was clear that Yediyurappa ordered inquiry only after getting their permission, he claimed.
He said BJP leader Umesh Katti had called him to inquiry about his health as he had undergone eye-surgery. “We are good friends. We decided to meet after sometime. We did not discuss anything else,” he added.
Former minister Zameer Ahmed Khan, who is friend-turned foe of Kumaraswamy, held the JD(S) leader responsible for the fall of the government. The JD(S) is making baseless charges against Siddaramaiah, he added.