BENGALURU: JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda on Wednesday said his party will not contest the ensuing bypolls to Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, and Maski, Sindagi and Basavakalyan Assembly segments. “JDS will not field its candidates. We don’t have the money to fight these elections,” he told reporters in Raichur, on the sidelines of a party event.Bypolls to Belagavi LS and Basavakalyan assembly seats are necessitated following the death of Union Minister Suresh Angadi and B Narayana Rao respectively last year. While Maski fell vacant following the disqualification of MLA Prathapgouda Patil, the Sindagi bypoll is due following the death of JDS MLA M C Managuli.
Of 15 Assembly segments that went for bypolls in 2019, the JDS did not win a single seat, and in 2020, the party failed to retain Sira and came a distant third in RR Nagar. Meanwhile, JDS State President H K Kumaraswamy said the party was concentrating on the next assembly polls.
“At present, we are focusing on the upcoming taluk and ZP polls. We are organising a JDS convention in Bengaluru on February 14, where we will felicitate our newly-elected GP members. Through this convention, we want to send out a message that the JDS is ready to face local body polls,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Congress has accused the JDS of not fielding candidates in the bypolls to help the BJP. “We don’t know if Gowda is interested in helping the BJP, but he doesn’t want the Congress to win any election. There is an understanding between the BJP and JDS,’’ a senior Congress leader told TNIE. He gave an example of an “alliance” between the JDS and BJP in the recent election to the post of Legislative Council chairman, and said both parties could go to any level to defeat the Congress.“What was the need to remove the earlier chairperson belonging to the Congress and elect a JDS member? Earlier, JDS leaders were opposing the Anti-Cow Slaughter Bill... but the government passing the Bill amid protests, one day before the chairman election, shows how the JDS is hand-in-glove with the BJP,’’ the Congress leader added.
Meanwhile, the Congress too has started preparations for taluk and ZP elections. KPCC Working President Saleem Ahmed said the party will form committees comprising 25 members in every GP. “Once the committees are constituted, they’ll reach out to voters, highlighting the government’s failure in handling the Covid-19 pandemic and farmers’ issues,” he said.
‘Don’t make farmers’ stir a prestige issue’
Deve Gowda said the Union government shouldn’t make the ongoing protest by farmers against the farm laws a prestige issue and should, instead, discuss and sort out the issue amicably. The former PM told reporters that farmers have the right to voice their concerns. He said the Centre shouldn’t have implemented the farm laws in a hurry and “it should have taken two months’ time to discuss the matter”.
“Farmers have participated in 11 rounds of negotiations with the government peacefully,” he added. On the violence that rocked parts of Delhi on January 26, Gowda said a probe was on and added, “I will not answer questions on money coming from other countries (to fund the protests). The Home Ministry is conducting an investigation... Once the report is out, I will speak.” Asked about the issue of demand for reservation from various communities, Gowda said former CM Siddaramaiah would have more details on the matter. “He will speak about it,” he quipped.
‘Mamata will become CM again’
Deve Gowda said that TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee will win the Assembly polls in West Bengal again, but with fewer seats, and become Chief Minister for the third time. “One has to appreciate her courage. Entire BJP top brass is in West Bengal. Many of her MLAs and ministers quit her party. It will have some impact on her prospects. But it will not stop Mamata from winning the election. She will become the CM again,” he said. He also said the BJP will not get many seats in Tamil Nadu, which along with Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim and Puducherry, will go to polls soon.Gowda also said he will work hard to ensure the JDS forms the next government in Karnataka.