Bengaluru: After weeks of trading barbs and years of distrust, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and former chief minister Siddarmaiah who once shared a father-son relationship that soured, shared a stage after 12 years, setting aside their political differences to send out a message to their respective party workers and secular parties across the country that they must unite to defeat communal forces in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Addressing a historic joint press conference in a plush hotel with the aim of presenting a united facade ahead of crucial November 3 by-polls to three Lok Sabha and two Assembly seats in the state, both leaders declared the BJP as their common political enemy and strongly appealed to their party workers who had fought bitterly against each other ahead of May 12 assembly polls, to work unitedly to defeat the BJP.
“Our only aim is to strengthen the roots of secular polity in the state as well as in the country in order to get rid of the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre which is the cause for several issues in this country,” JD(S) supremo Mr Gowda contended. He also claimed that he and Mr Siddaramaiah have gotten over their past differences, and aim to make the coalition government and the upcoming five by-elections successful.
“We are sharing the same dais after 12 years. We are also asking people to forgive us for letting our differences come in the way of unity,” he said, while appealing to the grassroot workers of both parties to come to terms with the coalition and fight unitedly against the BJP.
Suggesting that the alliance’s victory in the bypolls will be a prelude for the Lok Sabha 2019 polls, leaders of both the parties hit out at the BJP and accused it of continuing its efforts to gain power by destabilising the coalition government.
The JD(S) patriarch also said that this coalition was created to send a strong message to the country that the coming together of secular forces was not a dream as being described by Mr Modi.
“The unity of Opposition parties and secular forces commences from Bengaluru, like the way it happened in the 80s, when myself and late Ramakrishna Hegde and others sunk differences for the greater cause of protecting democracy and pluralistic character of the country,” he recalled.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah weighed in by stating that both Congress and JD(S) will campaign together for the upcoming by-polls, wherever the need arises.
“We will definitely take part in all joint campaigns in these by-elections and this will be the template for the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 too in our state,” he said while agreeing that both parties had fought individually but are now united due to unavoidable circumstances.
“It is not correct for the party-workers to show differences. Mr Gowda is a former prime minister and is taking the lead in stopping communal forces in the country. With the current political scenario in the country, it requires us to be united,” Mr Siddaramaiah averred.
The Congress leader also quickly added that he does not hold any personal grudge against BJP state president B. S. Yeddyurappa or any other BJP leader including Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
“BJP becomes our enemy only due to ideological differences. We request party workers to come together as there are national issues at stake,” the former chief minister said.
The joint press conference saw a phalanx of luminaries including Congress state unit president Dinesh Gundurao, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwar, Minister for Water Resources D. K. Shivakumar among others.