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Home > News > Report

Karnataka: Politics comes full circle after Gowda's U-turn

Vicky Nanjappa | October 29, 2007 13:29 IST

In Karnataka, there is never a dull moment as long as former prime minister H D Deve Gowda is in thick of action. Political experts say the 74-year-old Gowda becomes "at least 40 years younger" during a political crisis or an election.

The man, who is always subdued and aloof, springs into action, the moment there is some sort of excitement--politically. At the moment, too, Gowda is back and said to be in control of the entire political developments in Karnataka. The only thing one does not understand now is what he is up to this time.

He seems to be pretty fine with his son H D Kumaraswamy supporting the BJP to form the government. What is ironical is that he is the same man who wrote letters to President Prathibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur urging them to dissolve the House in Karnataka. Three letters to this effect were written on October 24 after the Centre decided to keep the house under suspended animation.

When everyone thought Karnataka was all set to face elections, then came the U-turn: three days later, Gowda gave his son Kumaraswamy the green signal to re-enter into a pact with the BJP and form a government. Gowda was even ready to give up his earlier demands.

The million-dollar question is: why did Gowda do such an volte-face? One also has to take into consideration the change in stand by the BJP, too.

The BJP, which had already started an election campaign, too, agreed almost instantly to the proposal made by the JD(S). There are a couple of reasons attached to this change in stand by the BJP and the JD(S).

The BJP, which had decided that it would capitalise on the sympathy factor after JD(S) refused to hand over power three weeks ago, lost the race. After withdrawing support from the government, the BJP had set out on a campaign, but cut it short when Kumaraswamy at the last moment offered support.

 This has not gone down too well with the BJP supporters who felt that the BJP was power-hungry and valued this above principles. Hence with the sympathy factor gone, the BJP tried to play the caste card and said B S Yediyurappa, a Lingayat, was ditched at the last moment.

The JD(S), too, which had readied itself for the elections did a turn-around, when it realised that the Congress was trying to split the party. Gowda was quick to realize, that his party member, M P Prakash was trying to enter into an alliance with the Congress and was all set to split the party. Moreover there were feelers that Kumaraswamy was losing support among voters in the state.

While both the BJP and the JD(S) were caught up in their own problems, the Congress was starting to gain ground. The famous saying in Kannada-- ibbara jagala moorane avanige laaba (The third person stands to gain between a fight between two parties) started making sense to both parties.

In the last three weeks, the Congress had managed to convince most people that it is the only party, which could provide stability. Moreover, the Congress, too, was ready to play the caste card and had planned to appoint a CM from the Lingayat community, which has a large voter base.

Sources say both the BJP and the JD(S) would have lost heavily in case they did not decide to form the government. By forming the government, both parties can rule the state for the next 19 months. By that time, they feel the political mess they created will be forgotten.