|HOME | ELECTION | REPORT|
|August 28, 1999||
Deve Gowda still eyes the top post
George Iype in Bangalore
After he melted in the crucible of national politics more than two years ago, Hardanhalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, the 67-year old former prime minister, is preparing for what he says will be "my last elections."
"I will take political sanyas if I am defeated in the elections. But that won't happen because the Janata Dal I head and me will do well in this election," the former prime minister sits down for a brief talk at his son Revanna's residence as his enthusiastic supporters occasionally sloganeer outside.
Outside his residence is parked a tractor, the new poll symbol that the Election Commission has allotted to his breakaway Janata Dal-Secular party recently.
Deve Gowda is excited that the tractor is his party's new symbol. Two weeks back, he drove the farmers' ploughing machine two kilometers in Bangalore. Though a group of Bangalore residents have filed a case against the former prime minister for disrupting the traffic and its rules in the city, Deve Gowda said, "It was a great experience."
"I am a farmer. I used to drive similar tractors in the fields some 30 years ago. This is a powerful symbol for me to ask for votes among my fellow farmers," he said.
He is today bitter for having been betrayed by Chief Minister J H Patel. "But I knew the split in the Janata Dal was coming. I was expecting it in Karnataka in the past three years," he pointed out.
He said it all began the day he expelled his arch-rival Ramakrishna Hegde from the Janata Dal for anti-party activities in June 1996 soon after he became the prime minister. "Hegde is political poison. He is an opportunist," the farmer-turned-politician remarked.
So if the expulsion of Hegde was the root cause for the split in the Janata Dal, was not it Deve Gowda's own making? "No," he said firmly accusing both Hegde and Patel of "hatching a conspiracy to destabilise the Janata Dal and annihilate me politically."
''I am to be blamed for only one reason: that I gave protection and help to wrong persons like Patel. "Patel has been corrupted under the influence of Hegde," he said.
His followers believe whenever he was raring to go, misfortunes have hit him. Thus, they claim former Congress president Sitaram Kesri unnecessarily unseated Deve Gowda as prime minister in March 1997.
Similarly, former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav split the Janata Dal two years ago when Deve Gowda failed to protect the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader.
Now after his trusted friend Patel has thrown in his lot with Hegde, Deve Gowda's own political disciples like film star Ambarish have deserted him to join the Congress party.
Maybe knowing that the JD-S is on a weak wicket in these elections, Deve Gowda's followers have not been cajoling and jostling him for seats in the past two weeks. There have been no undue demands from his colleagues. Deve Gowda is today left with a motley of supporters that include two of his politician sons and former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah.
But despite the heavy odds against him and before the die is cast, Deve Gowda vows that he will rise in national politics after the elections. And having held the country's top post once, Deve Gowda is optimistic that his aspiration for that post now is justifiable.
"My principle is that one should never give up in life and politics," he said. "Ours is the original Janata Dal and it will not disappear and vanish as Hegde and Patel believe. With these elections, my party will be cemented as a big political force among farmers and backward classes," he said.
"I am confident that my party will be able to win a substantial number parliamentary and assembly seats in Karnataka. We will call the shots not only in the state but at the Centre also," the former premier said adding that "in a hung parliament groups like ours will be more precious than the BJP and the Congress."
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK