Rejecting speculation about his party's merger with the BJP, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on Saturday asserted JD(S) was here to stay and would strive to come to power on its own in the 2023 assembly polls.
He also hit out at the Congress for questioning his secular credentials and blamed it for the collapse of the JDS-Congress government in Karnataka and levelled allegations against the party.
Breaking his silence on rumours about the merger with the saffron party, which he termed as an "entertainment programme", the JD(S) patriarch said, with his clarification, the speculation should end.
"Since the last three months several things have been said about our party, it can be called an entertainment programme. JD(S) is a regional party and the pain behind saving and building a regional party will only be known to its workers, office bearers and its head," Mr Gowda told reporters.
Claiming that political leaders were speaking about JD(S)' irrelevance, the 87-year-old leader said no one can shake or remove his party so easily.
"It is not just Deve Gowda and his son, there are people to save this party not only during my lifetime, but even after me," he added.
Amid rumours of a possible merger, JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, also Mr Gowda's son, and Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had last week issued separate statements, dismissing it as far from the truth.
There has been speculation for some months now about the merger, with Mr Kumaraswamy twice meeting Mr Yediyurappa personally at his official residence and JD(S) alleged softening of stand towards the ruling BJP in the state.
Also JD(S) extending its support for the passage of the contentious land reforms bill in the Legislative Council after initially opposing it, and support to BJP in its no-confidence motion against the Council Chairman did add to the speculation.
To a specific question on merger, Mr Gowda said "Which astrologer has said it? ..these are childish talks...I was a former Prime Minister. Will I take my party to someone's doorsteps?"
Asked about 2023 elections, Mr Gowda said the JD(S) was working towards coming to power on its own.
"Congress is a big party and they have strength to bring the party to power. I'm not saying we have that strength, but we will strive for it, and will not sit quiet. There is no question.. we will fight to come to power.," he said
Mr Gowda hit out at the Congress party during the press conference.
"I can speak a lot about Congress.." he said, as he noted that he too was a Congressman in the past.
Stating that he had not gone to anyone's door asking for his son Mr Kumaraswamy to be made the Chief Minister after the 2018 assembly polls, he said "I invited all the secular leaders of the country for swearing-in of (Congress-JDS government)-why? To give strength to the Congress that had lost strength in 18-20 states...Who destroyed it?"
Mr Gowda hit out at the Congress's Siddaramaiah, for trying to test his secular credentials.
"On the issue of removing the legislative council Chairman, a former Chief Minister who is also a senior Congress leader (Siddaramaiah) by taking my name has spoken about testing my secular stand (for supporting BJP's no-confidence motion)."
He claimed Chairman K Pratapachandra Shetty was ready to resign, but the Congress party to which he belongs was not allowing him, "because they want to test Mr Gowda's secular credentials."
Mr Gowda accused the Congress of misleading Muslims, and trying to destroy JD(S)'s secular credentials.
"....none of them (Congress leaders) had gone to Godhra (immediately after riots).These people will save Muslims! They say in Parliament proceedings that theirs is soft Hindutva. Now I don't understand soft and hard Hindutva," he said.
"Rahul Gandhi, who is projected as the future Prime Minister of the country, during the poll campaign had said Deve Gowda's party is a B-team of BJP. This was for a former PM," he said as he hit out at the state Congress leaders asking "who made him say this? Was their intention to save JD(S) or to finish it? and what was the outcome?"
On the political slugfest between Mr Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah, Gowda said he has sought putting an end to the "entertainment programme" from the JD(S) side.
"Let them build their party, let us build ours."
Mr Gowda has convened a mega meeting of the JD(S) on January 7, 2021, at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru.
"Those whore honest will come, those who aren't will go. This meeting will reveal the reality," he said.
He also said the JD(S) will have a core committee in place with 8-9 leaders and discuss revamping the party after January 15, aimed at strengthening it.
"We will save and build this party, a regional party is necessary for the country."