Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy appealed to the people of the state to help install a Kannadiga as the next Prime Minister of the country.

Speaking at a rally in Mandya on Wednesday, Kumaraswamy apparently batted for his father, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, as he launched a poll campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

“In 1996, a Kannadiga HD Deve Gowda became PM after you (Karnataka) blessed us with 16 Lok Sabha seats,” he told the gathering.

“If you bless Congress and JD(S) with at least 20-22 seats in Karnataka once again, a Kannadiga can be in that place (Prime Minister),” he added.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Kumaraswamy said, “In this country anything can happen. Why can’t it (a Kannadiga PM) happen?”

Deve Gowda served as the 11th Prime Minister of India from 1 June 1996 to 21 April 1997 in the United Front Government at the Centre, which had the support of the Congress.

He was also the Chief Minister of Karnataka from 1994 to 1996.

The 85-year-old Deve Gowda is currently the MP from Haasan constituency from Karnataka.

Kumaraswamy’s remarks came on the day the opposition flayed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the centre for “blatant politicisation” of the armed forces’ sacrifices.

On the same day, Karnataka BJP chief and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said that the IAF strikes on terror camps in Pakistan has created a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will help the party win over 22 of 28 seats in the state in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The JD(S) and the Congress are undecided about the sharing of Lok Sabha seats in the state. Mandya, where the CM was speaking, was held by late Congress leader Ambareesh.

His wife, Sumalatha, is reportedly trying to get a Congress ticket to help her contest from the constituency.