Former prime minister HD Devegowda on Thursday took a dig at the high command culture of the Congress and asked its president Mallikarjun Kharge if the party would tolerate his becoming the prime minister of the country.
Taking part in the farewell to retiring members in Rajya Sabha, JD(S) leader HD Devegowda took exception to Mr Kharge’s remark that he changed his political course in the fag end of his life.
His support to the BJP was to save his party [JD(S)] from “some of the Congressmen” who wanted to destroy it, HD Devegowda said.
While acknowledging Mr Kharge’s honesty and the support he had extended to him during his political career, the former prime minister blamed some Congress leaders for the fall of the Congress-JD(S) government in 2019, which was led by his son HD Kumaraswamy.
He claimed that despite his suggestion then that Mr Kharge should become the Chief Minister of Karnataka and not his son, the Congress high command insisted that HD Kumaraswamy should be the chief minister.
“…within 13 months, who removed him (HD Kumaraswamy)? Not Kharge but it was the Congress leaders,” he asserted.
HD Devegowda further said,”Mr Kharge, do you want to become the prime minister of this country? Will Congress tolerate (it)? Please tell me, I know (the) Congress.” Terming Mr Kharge as a clean person who has worked for nearly 35-40 years, he said, “…but what happened when somebody referred your name to become the prime minister or to become the leader? That has been countered by his own friends!” HD Devegowda said he has not jumped from one party to another in his life to get any personal gains.
“I want to save my party when some of the Congressmen want to destroy the party. I have taken the decision to extend my support to BJP. That is the only reason,” he said, and turning to Mr Kharge, he added it was not for personal benefit.
The love and affection shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only thing “which I have got as a benefit from the current prime minister”, he said.
“When my son was removed by Congress that is the day I told my son to go with BJP. That day I told this Congress cannot allow you to grow. I told HD Kumaraswamy to go with BJP,” HD Devegowda said.
He also claimed that even former prime minister Manmohan Singh “cried for the mistake committed by those top leaders in Congress”.
“A man who ruled this country for ten years, who saved the country from debt trap and who served the nation with all honesty cried in a situation when the 2G spectrum was discussed in Lok Sabha,” HD Devegowda said.
In his speech, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya recollected the guidance of late Arun Jaitley and also narrated an incident when senior politician and chairman of a parliamentary standing committee K C Tyagi removed him from the board of the panel for remaining absent in four consecutive meetings, teaching him parliamentary discipline.
Asserting that he has been a witness to historic reforms such as the passage of legislation like triple talaq law, GST, women’s reservation and Nyay Sanhita, Mandaviya said when the country completes 100 years, people would remember the golden period under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all these legislative reforms.
Retiring member Jaya Bachchan (SP) said the best experience during her stint has been that “my family has become bigger”. She wished for more strength to the remaining members so that the Upper House does not become “irrelevant” and stays powerful and honourable like before.
In his farewell speech, Prakash Javadekar of the BJP said as a minister he cleared defence projects which were pending due to the environment clearances.
Union Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said he witnessed dramatic transformation of the country in the last ten years and recollected debates on the 2G scam, spectrum auction, NPAs, ‘One rank, One pension’ (OROP), net neutrality and data protection in the House.
Union minister Bhupender Yadav noted that the Upper House in future should also think about ways to strengthen the working of the committees to reach a political consensus.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan thanked the party leadership and Maharashtra legislature for nominating him to the Rajya Sabha and said it was a reflection of admiration and affection of PM Modi towards Kerala.
Taking part in the farewell to retiring members, Sasmit Patra (BJD) said each of the members have enthralled and added to the richness of the Upper House.
Sukhendu Sekhar Ray (AITC) hoped that the member would continue to work for their parties and the people in general.
Tiruchi Siva (DMK), K Keshava Rao (BRS) Narain Dass Gupta (AAP), Vashishtha Narayan Singh JD(U), Sulata Deo (BJD), Md Nadimul Haque (AITC), Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar (TDP), Amee Yajnik (Congress), Naranbhai J Rathwa (Congress), GK Vasan [TMC (M)] and B Lingaiah Yadav (BRS) also spoke during the day.
Purushotham Rupala spoke in Gujarati.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)