Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has said that unlike BJP veteran LK Advani, he is not going to retire from active politics, and that if Rahul Gandhi becomes the prime minister of the country, he will be by his side.
Talking about his decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Deve Gowda said, "I announced three years ago that I will not contest elections. There are circumstances now in which I have been forced to contest. There is nothing to hide. I have no ambition of anything but what I always said is that I am not going to retire from active politics."
Mr Deve Gowda is contesting from Karnataka's Tumkur parliamentary constituency against GS Basvaraj of the BJP.
When asked if he wants to retire like LK Advani, he replied with an emphatic ''no'', adding, "I want to save my party first and last the office building."
Commenting on his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's statement that there is a possibility that Mr Deve Gowda might become the prime minister as a consensus candidate after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he replied: "I am not bothered about this. My concern is (Narendra) Modi will come to Parliament. I have got the guts and conviction to tell it to the face of the PM. I have the courage. If Rahul Gandhi becomes the prime minister, I will sit by his side. It is not necessary to become the prime minister."
Speaking about his commitment to the Congress, Mr Deve Gowda said: "Madam Sonia Gandhi has taken the decision to support Deve Gowda even though we are a small party. Now it is my responsibility to move forward with the Congress, though I do agree in some states there is no question of any coalition. But in Tamil Nadu, there is a coalition between Congress and DMK and with Sharad Pawar's party in Maharashtra."
Responding to accusations of saving the family rather than the party, the JD(S) chief said: "Several leaders who worked with me collectively, have left. Some people are in Congress, some in BJP. I was able to keep the party intact but suffered. I have not allowed my family members to become president of the party."