Former Prime Minister and JDS leader H D Deve Gowda today said those party leaders willing to support Congress in the August 21 Assembly bypoll to Shikaripura constituency could either join any of the two national parties or remain in JDS and work to strengthen it.
"The leaders who have expressed willingness to support Congress for the bypoll have two options before them... Either join any of the two national parties or remain in the party. It is for them to decide on this," he told reporters here.
Speculations are rife that three JDS leaders, Madhu Bangarppa, Chelavurayaswamy and Zameer Ahmed Khan, have been cosying up to the Congress.
Gowda's remark comes in the wake of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's claim on August 13 that local JDS leaders had expressed willingness to support Congress in the bypoll with an aim to unseat BJP.
Gowda said the other option before the leaders was to remain in the party and work to strengthen it at the grass roots level.
"If they are unwilling to leave the party, then they can attend JDS office-bearers' meet tomorrow, where talks will be held to strengthen the party in the state," he said.
JDS would remain strong even if some leaders desert it as it is not a father-son party but a cadre-based one, Gowda said.
"The party has seen many ups and downs in the past. We came back strongly in the last Assembly elections with 40 seats," he said.
On the cash-for-seat controversy, Gowda said he had no information on it.
His son and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was embroiled in the controversy after release of an audio CD last month about him purportedly telling supporters of MLC seat aspirant Vijugouda Patil, a JDS leader from Bijapur district, about demand for money from his party MLAs.
In the CD, whose clips were played on Kannada TV channels, Kumaraswamy was purportedly heard telling supporters of Patil, "Each MLA (of JDS) is asking for one crore. They are saying you make anybody the MLC..."
At another point, Kumaraswamy is heard saying "40 people (JDS MLAs) are asking for 40 crore... This is my fate."
Countering the charges, Gowda alleged that some BJP and Congress members in the Upper House had indulged in corruption to get themselves elected.
"People also have witnessed money being used to purchase elected members even in Parliament. So tell me which party has not indulged in it?" he asked.