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`Secular credentials of Congress suspect'

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H.D. Deve Gowda
H.D. Deve Gowda

Staff Correspondent

HASSAN: Without naming the Congress, Janata Dal (Secular) national president H.D. Deve Gowda on Monday said the party, which he accused of joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to conduct rituals at Bababudan-Datta Peetha in 1999 to meet its political ends, was now finding fault with the JD(S)-BJP coalition government, which had taken steps to protect secular values.

Mr. Gowda, who was in Hassan to participate in a meeting of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee, told presspersons D.B. Chandre Gowda, who was then the Minister in charge of Chikmagalur district, had performed puja at Bababudan-Datta Peetha in 1999, when the Congress was in power. That party then had over 160 legislators in the Assembly, but it compromised its secular values.

But despite forming a coalition government with the BJP with only "a handful of legislators," the JD(S) was trying to safeguard its secular credentials, while adhering to the court orders to maintain the pre-1975 status quo, the former Prime Minister said.

Defends Government

Defending the stand taken by the Government, he said the district administration had been given full powers to deal with the situation.

Refusing to comment on the communal violence in Dakshina Kannada district, he said, "Everyone will capitalise on the situation. I do not want to rake up the history of communal violence in the State, as that will complicate the issue," he said.

Reacting to the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra, he said the recent session of the legislature in Belgaum had given a fitting reply to the neighbouring State. The resolution adopted in the session answered in a befitting manner those who had raked up the issue.

On his recent statement on the need to strengthen the party, he said, "I am getting old and my health is not permitting me to work in the way I was doing earlier. At this juncture, many are trying to finish me politically, but it will not be that easy for them." There was no question of his sacrificing the values that he had followed throughout his life, he added.

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