Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda’s allegedly derogatory remarks purportedly directed against Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa sparked off a political row on Sunday with leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressing righteous indignation. But, Mr. Gowda clarified later in the day that his remarks were not directed at the Chief Minister and even offered to express regrets if his outbursts had offended Mr. Yeddyurappa.

Mr. Gowda, who had joined the farmers protesting against the acquisition of land for the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, was responding to queries from presspersons on the Chief Minister’s invitation issued earlier in the day for a public debate on the project.

With television channels repeatedly telecasting the angry remarks made by the former Prime Minister, BJP leaders, including senior Ministers joined the debate, condemning Mr. Gowda for his “grossly derogatory” description of the Chief Minister.

But, a few hours later, Mr. Gowda said he had reacted angrily to a news report on the on-going farmers’ protest appearing in a Kannada daily in which Advocate-General Ashok Harnahalli was a director. The Janata Dal (S) leader, who had earlier accused the Advocate-General of misleading the Supreme Court on the BMIC issue, said the news report mocked the agitation by describing the farmers as hired. “The remarks were not against the Chief Minister”, Mr. Gowda clarified.

‘Struggle will continue’

However, Mr. Gowda sought to make it clear that his struggle against the alleged irregularities of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) would continue till the farmers got justice. Meanwhile, his son and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy sought to draw curtains on the issue by claiming that Mr. Gowda was pained by the sufferings of the farmers, who would be uprooted from their lands.