Home turf is ready for campaign, but Deve Gowda isn't home yet
It may be his home turf, but
former prime minister H D Deve Gowda is finding the political pace
quite tough in Hassan, this small Karnataka constituency where he is
looking for a second stint to the Lok Sabha.
Deve Gowda, who hails from Hardanahalli, is engaged in a fierce battle with
his former confidante, Congress nominee H C Srikantaiah who has the support
of a good number of the former PM's detractors. Foremost among them is state minister G Putteswamy Gowda.
In 1989, Deve Gowda won the Hassan seat on the
Party ticket. Despite being a
Janata Dal nominee in the Rajya
Sabha, he has chosen to enter the fray again.
Though his 'humble farmer' image still holds a
considerable sway in the land of coffee and potato, stiff
opposition leaves him no room for complacency. Both he and Srikantaiah belong to the dominant
Vokkaliga community. While Deve Gowda appears to have a slight
edge in Holenarsipur, from where he won successive assembly
elections between 1962 and 1985, his rival has the
upper hand in his home town, Chennarayapatna.
Also in the race is Susheela
Shivappa, former Bharatiya Janata Party women's
wing state president and senior party leader B B Shivappa's wife, who lost twice
from the constituency. The Bahujan Samaj Party's M D Gangaiah, allied with former chief minister S Bangarappa's Karnataka Vikas Party, and U M Komalatha
(Independent) are the other candidates.
Putteswamy Gowda, who hails from Holenarsipur, has the
potential to tilt the scales against
Deve Gowda. He has sunk his differences with Srikantaiah
to deny any advantage to the 'humble farmer'.
The Congress, meanwhile, is trying another
ploy. It has roped in Basave Gowda, Deve
Gowda's younger brother, taking advantage of a
family conflict. However, Hardanahalli and Hale Kotte
natives say this will not make any dent in Deve
A major complaint about Deve Gowda is that he did not
deliver anything concrete to the people during his days at the
helm. However, this is offset by the sense of
pride which the mannina maga (son of the soil) brought
them by ascending to the prime minister's
office. Observers see this sentiment as a very
positive point of Deve Gowda's candidature.
Interestingly, Deve Gowda is yet to start campaigning in
being on tour to various parts of the country trying to garner
support for the United Front. As of now, he has left the arena to
his son and state
Housing Minister H D Revanna. He is expected to start
canvassing from February 13.
Meanwhile, the BJP has been steadily making its presence
felt in the
constituency. Besides a significant presence in Sakleshpur, the
party has segments of supporters in Hassan town, Arsikere, Belur
Shivappa who is overseeing his wife's campaign, claims the party has been getting 'tremendous'
response. In Hassan, women outnumber men, forming a
little over 50 per cent of the
1.17 million electorate. The BJP is targeting them, he said.
Campaign managers for all three contenders say the Muslims,
who constitute nearly 150,000 of the electorate, will be the
Paramilitary forces can be seen in Sakleshpur, Chennarayapatna
and Holenarsipur. Officials said
the BJP has demanded additional forces to be
deputed in Hassan.
Hassan, observers say, will come
alive only when Deve Gowda steps
into the ring.
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