Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) President HD Devegowda on Friday said that mid-term elections in Karnataka are imminent as he is uncertain about how long the coalition government with Congress would last in the state, News18 reported. However, hours later, he backtracked.

The two parties formed a coalition in May 2018, but the relationship has been rocky since the beginning. Rumours of its imminent collapse have been doing the rounds for a while.

“I am not sure how long the coalition government will last. Going by the developments, in the past two months, mid-terms polls seem imminent,” Devegowda was quoted as saying by News18 on Friday morning. “People will watch all the developments.”

Later in the day, he clarified to ANI: “I said it for local body elections and not assembly elections. I’m here to build my party.” Reiterating that there was an understanding between the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress, he added: “As HD Kumaraswamy had mentioned, the government will continue for next 4 years. As long as Congress will be strong, we will be strong.”

The Gowda family suffered a major setback in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections after Devegowda, who contested from Tumkur, and his grandson Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the party’s candidate from Mandya, both lost the elections. Gowda criticised Congress for blaming Janata Dal (Secular) over the poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. He said several senior close associates of Karnataka Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have left him.

The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) won only two seats between them in the elections, while the BJP emerged victorious in 25 out of 28 constituencies. There has been added tension with the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance with war of words between the two parties, and, defection of its leaders is always a threat. Kumaraswamy has been seen making emotional remarks about his difficulties a number of times.

Congress’ state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao dismissed Devegowda’s statements and claimed that there is no question of mid-term elections as the government is functioning in a stable manner despite BJP’s efforts. “I am sure that Deve Gowda will clarify on his part,” Rao told News18. “We have given our unconditional support to Janata Dal (Secular). Our government will complete its term.”

Gowda’s statement came two days after his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said he cannot express the pain that he goes through every day and has the responsibility of running the government smoothly.