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Deve Gowda backs Rahul Gandhi’s candidature for PM

Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Photo: Mint

Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on Tuesday backed the candidature of Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the country’s top post after next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The statement by Gowda, the national president of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), has given the Congress a much-needed boost after some of the national party’s alliance partners backed out of the loosely formed “mahagathbandhan” or grand alliance to take on the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the elections to be held in 2019.

“I completely support Rahul Gandhi’s candidature to become Prime Minister,” Gowda said in Ballari on Tuesday.

Gowda is considered the catalyst for bringing all non-BJP parties to share a platform in Bengaluru during the swearing-in ceremony of his son and incumbent Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in May.

Gowda, who is campaigning for the Congress candidate for the 3 November bypolls in the mineral rich district of Ballari, about 320km from Bengaluru, said that the coalition in Karnataka is the first phase of bringing down the Modi government in next years elections.

The bitter-rivals-turned-allies, Congress and JD(S), believe that the upcoming bypolls in three Lok Sabha and two assembly seats would have an impact on the state elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as well as the general elections in 2019.

The Congress and JD(S) decided to bury their differences and fight the bypolls together, causing several of their grassroot level workers to revolt and even join the BJP.

“This is not a show of strength of the coalition but of secularism,” Gowda said. The Congress’s hopes to unite all opposition parties received a jolt when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati decided against an alliance in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

When the present government was being formed in Karnataka, the Congress decided to support the JD(S) and even gave it the post of chief minister, despite being the bigger partner, with the aim of reviving the party’s fortunes next year after it was routed by the “Modi wave” in 2014.

In the process, the Congress had to bear most of the coalition’s burden as it upset some of its senior leaders in Karnataka, which turned into one of the biggest hurdles for the government and their plans to complete the full five year term.

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