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Deve Gowda-Siddaramaiah display rare bonhomie ahead of Karnataka by-polls
Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) supremo, H.D.Deve Gowda, on Saturday asserted his resolve to work together with the Congress for the upcoming November 3 by-polls, to help set a strong foundation for coalition partners in the run-up to next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

His sharing of the dias with his former friend-turned-political rival Siddaramaiah after a gap of nearly 12 years, highlights the importance of the upcoming by-polls, which the coalition believes will set the trend for next year, where the two parties have joined hands to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We have not come together for personal gain but for the larger interest of the country,” Gowda said, addressing one of the first top-level joint press conferences of the JD(S)-Congress coalition.

The heated exchanges and trading of charges between the two parties before the May elections was ‘irrelevant’ now, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said.

Gowda and Siddaramaiah were joined by Karnataka chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao, deputy CM, G. Parameshwara and Cabinet minister D.K.Shivakumar, putting up a spectacle of solidarity and appealing to its grass root level workers to overcome differences and combine forces to defeat the BJP.

Three parliamentary constituencies — Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya — and two Assembly seats — Ramanagaram and Jamkhandi — will head to polls on November 3. According to the agreement, JD(S) will field candidates in Shivamogga, Mandya and Ramanagaram, while the Congress will contest the other two seats.

Gowda and Siddaramaiah shared a tempestuous past, which had become one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the coalition government, with the latter being viewed as the man leading all Congress dissidents and trying to destabilise the government, four months since it came into being. Kumaraswamy said though there had been differences between the two leaders, they were like two bodies and one soul.

Several top leaders from regional outfits in other states had descended on the swearing in ceremony of Kumaraswamy in May, that had set the foundation for a consolidated Opposition.

However, the Congress party faced a jolt when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati pulled out of the evolving Mahagathbandhan, ahead of the elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. BSP, which had an alliance with the JD(S) in Karnataka, continued to remain in government even though its lone representative legislator, N.Mahesh, resigned from the Kumaraswamy-led Cabinet last week.

“Fact of the matter is these two family-run political parties have come together to save the existence of one family here in Karnataka and another family back in Delhi. A desperate attempt to save their existence will be wiped out by voters of Karnataka,” the state BJP said on Twitter, in reaction to the joint press conference.