Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using central agencies to target opposition parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The 86-year-old former Prime Minister made the allegation a day after Income Tax officials conducted raids in Karnataka.
"I am watching the Union government - how constitutionally created institutions have been used, misused to destroy the opposition parties. Only one word I would like to say," Mr Gowda said in an interview with NDTV at his south Bengaluru residence. "The quantum of money (Modi) spent for the election in 2014 -- how many aircraft engages, how many choppers engages. From where that money came? I have been watching everything for the last five years. I have kept quiet."
Mr Gowda said he was shocked by the manner in which the Prime Minister was exploiting his position. "This type of level the prime minister is reduced -- never in the past. So sorry the office of the prime minister is brought down to such level," he added.
The Janata Dal (Secular) chief alleged that the raids were part of a vindictive plot orchestrated by PM Modi because his son, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, had rejected an offer of alliance extended by the BJP before last year's assembly elections. "Modi has several times, Shah has several times tried to persuade Kumaraswamy to come back to the fold. This was before assembly elections last year. They said, 'You come to Bombay. We have got our man. Whatever money you want.' I have openly told I will disown my son if he follows those lines. Kumaraswamy took a firm stand," he said.
He claimed that the hallmark of PM Modi's elections speeches was his "arrogance". "I was watching today, what type of speeches? He thinks he's the only honest man, all others are corrupt? This type of statement with all arrogance is bothersome. People of this country watch this leader, his performance, he is only Prime Minister who now brought it to the first developed countries? What happened the space thing. I don't want to go into this. He thinks he is the only man who has made India powerful," he said.
Mr Gowda said he expects to see all the opposition leaders who had come for his son's swearing-in ceremony last year to jointly take on the NDA in the upcoming polls. "They will certainly unite in the end. Seat-sharing is a major issue, and that's why there are some differences," he added.
Although the Janata Dal (Secular) leader claimed that there are many "good leaders" in the opposition, he had a special word for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. "Mamata Banerjee is fighting on her own," Mr Gowda said. "Neither Congress nor CPM, she is not going to cooperate. Because she is a very hard lady. She has struggled for more than 40 years. Nobody can say she is corrupt. Whether Narada scam, Sharada scam; when the investigation started all they are saying is no. Personally what is her asset? Maybe her old house which I have seen as an opposition leader. The same house she is staying. That street might have been improved. It is a small area. And now she might have half a dozen sarees. I don't think she cares about anything. She is not bothered whether the investigation is by x or y. She doesn't care. She is a fighter."
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, he believes, has a good shot at becoming the next Prime Minister. "Why not?" he asked. "He has improved a lot after he became President. My expectation has grown a lot."
Mr Gowda doesn't see himself as a potential contender for the prime ministerial post. "No, I am not aspiring," he said.
Tumakuru, the constituency from which Deve Gowda is standing, will vote on April 18.
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