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Why Deve Gowda is bad for Bangalore

June 15, 2006 14:32 IST

Bangaloreans must banish H D Deve Gowda if they wish to see any developmental works come to fruition.

I am conscious of the fact that I am saying this about a former prime minister of India, but then if the man himself does not know how to behave like a former prime minister, then he deserves to get it from ordinary folks like me.

This man has become a pain all over the body for Bangalore and Bangaloreans. He has made it abundantly clear time and again that he simply cannot tolerate anything that could make Bangalore a little more developed than his native village or anything that could make the life of Bangaloreans a little less stressful.

The decline of Bangalore

Just look at this short list of people and projects that have become victims of this man's politics:

The late Ramakrishna Hegde suffered at his hands for having provided him the ladder to political power. Or, did Hegde suffer at Deve Gowda's hands because he, as chief minister in the 1980s, did so much to make Bangalore green and wonderfully livable and promoted Bangalore as India's Silicon Valley?

The globally-admired N R Narayana Murthy had to suffer Deve Gowda's abuses too.

What is Murthy admired for? For several things: it was Murthy's company Infosys that showed India what it is capable of. It is Murthy and his friends who have shown how to create wealth, and more importantly (although not from Deve Gowda's point of view) how to distribute it to the people who actually generated it.

Murthy aur Deve Gowda ko gussa kyon aata hain?

But above all, it is his honesty and integrity that Murthy is admired for. And this farmer prime minister (oh, what misfortune it was that befell India in 1996!) calls Murthy a land-grabber!

Unlike Deve Gowda, Murthy guards his reputation fiercely. Murthy resigned from the chairmanship of the Bangalore international airport project as soon as Deve Gowda spewed venom on him (but, of course, after giving Deve Gowda a fitting reply in facts and figures, after which the latter has shut his mouth tight on the issue).

Then think of poor Siddaramaiah. For long, he was Deve Gowda's right-hand man. Then, one day, he was ousted like so many other close associates of the 'son of the soil'. His crime: He was perceived as a relatively decent politician who at least sometimes thought of the welfare of the people. He was therefore more popular than Deve Gowda's sons.

Deve Gowda's blunder may cost Bangalore dear

Now, his latest target is the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project. Somehow, it has to be scuttled. Otherwise, Bangalore and Mysore will get a piece of world-class infrastructure and the people of Bangalore and Mysore will get a little bit of speed and comfort. That Deve Gowda cannot tolerate.

From India Together: The Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project

Or maybe it is Ashok Kheny, the managing director of the company constructing the corridor, that Deve Gowda cannot stand, because the man is doing something that would be useful to Bangalore and Bangaloreans.

Actually, it is difficult to make out whether Deve Gowda scuttles development projects while trying to scuttle individuals or scuttles individuals while trying to scuttle development projects!

But the result is always comprehensive -- his politics has scuttled not just admirable individuals and their useful ideas and projects, but has scuttled the prospects of the entire city and its six million people.

Even conceding all his allegations against the likes of Murthy and Kheny, this man must be asked one simple question:

Murthy's 'land-grabbing' has resulted in high-paying jobs for over 50,000 people, and worldwide respect for India and the Indian IT industry. Murthy and his wife have spent millions of rupees of their hard-earned wealth to improve schools and libraries for thousands of village children all over Karnataka (while Deve Gowda pays lip service to rural India). Why, they have even built clean toilets all over Bangalore -- something that Deve Gowda never even thought of as public work department minister, chief minister, or even as prime minister.

Bangalore crumbling? Not just yet

Ashok Kheny's 'land-grabbing' will result in world class infrastructure and townships all along Bangalore-Mysore, reducing commuting time to less than half what it is now, saving fuel and time for millions of people -- something Deve Gowda never thought of.

I challenge Deve Gowda to come out and tell us how many lives has he made better through his political career.

Why should this man have any say at all in Bangalore's affairs? Why should Bangaloreans continue to tolerate his brand of politics? Why should he be allowed to scuttle Bangalore's development?

If Gujaratis can feel so (unjustifiably) angry about Aamir Khan's stance on the Narmada dam as to damn him and his movie out of the state simply because they 'felt' he had said something anti-Gujarat, then wouldn't the people of Bangalore be completely justified in banishing Deve Gowda who has been so visibly and so patently working against their interests?

PS: Let me make a prediction. Deve Gowda's next target will be the Bangalore metro rail project and the man who will head that project E Sreedharan, who has gained admiration in India and around the world.

Sooner or later, Deve Gowda will accuse him of land-grabbing, of trying to profit, of anything that he can conjure up. Somehow, he has to scuttle the metro project and somehow, he has to tarnish Sreedharan.

Deve Gowda can't sleep otherwise.

S Raghotham