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‘Kumaraswamy refused offer of support from PM Modi in 2019’

Last week, pictures of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s office in Parliament set off speculation that the BJP and the Janata Dal (S) headed by Mr. Gowda were exploring a tie-up for the elections to 25 seats in the Karnataka Legislative Council that were later held on December 10.

While no formal tie-ups were announced by either the JD(S) or the BJP after that very public meeting, a new biography of Mr. Gowda — Furrows in a Field : The Unexplored Life of Deve Gowda (Penguin Vintage) — by journalist Sugata Srinivasraju claims that a bigger offer of a coalition Government between the two parties was made by Prime Minister Modi to Mr. Gowda’s son, former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy at a pull aside chat during a meeting at the NITI Aayog in New Delhi in early 2019.

Mr. Raju quotes Mr. Gowda extensively to claim that Prime Minister Modi told Mr. Kumaraswamy that tying up with the BJP would ensure that he would be Chief Minister for five years, instead of the rather unsteady arrangement with the Congress. This was the time when several Congress MLAs were getting ready to jump ship and join the BJP, eventually bringing down Mr. Kumaraswamy’s coalition Government.

Mr. Gowda is then quoted in the book on what his son’s response to the offer was: “My son said I don’t want to hurt my father at this age. He is suffering. My Government may stay or go, at his advanced age, I can’t hurt the feelings of my father.” This was also after Mr. Kumaraswamy had once formed a Government with the help of the BJP in 2006, a move publicly opposed by his father.

The book however also says while both Mr. Modi and Mr. Gowda are shrewd politicians, both share and appreciate the other’s feelings of being at odds with the elite establishment in Delhi.

Delhi’s dirty politics

A revealing anecdote in the book is about Mr. Gowda’s first (of four) visits to Jammu and Kashmir as Prime Minister. When then chief of the Special Protection Group (SPG), Shyamal Dutta, at touchdown at Srinagar airport urges Mr. Gowda to put on a bullet proof vest for protection, the former Prime Minister responds: “But Gowda pointed to his forehead and said, whatever is written here will take place. In case something happens, send my body to Holenarsipur (Mr. Gowda’s hometown). In Delhi’s dirty politics, they’ll not even cremate me properly.”

Mr. Dutta then goes on to say even 25 years after that incident, he has not forgotten the words uttered by the former Prime Minister.

The book is an exhaustive look at the long political career of Mr. Gowda, a career that is as much the child of struggle as serendipity, from the fields of Holenarsipur to the Prime Minister’s Office.


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 2:30:46 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kumaraswamy-refused-offer-of-support-from-pm-modi-in-2019/article37938749.ece