Deve Gowda's record in his fiefdom vs Siddu's guile

Deve Gowda's record in his fiefdom vs Siddu's guile

In the Vokkaliga heartland of Hassan, former prime minister and sitting JD (S) MP H D Deve Gowda does not seem unduly worried about his contest in the Lok Sabha polls on April 17.

But the rival Congress, led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, appears to be revving up at full throttle in Hassan Parliamentary constituency in its bid to dethrone Gowda in his fiefdom.

The Congress leaders, most of whom are friends-turned-foes of Gowda, are not leaving any stone unturned to humble the “son of the soil” (as Gowda calls himself). Siddaramaiah, along with PWD minister and Hassan district in-charge H C Mahadevappa, is said to be closely monitoring the party’s election affairs in Hassan. Minister D K Shivakumar, who is perceived as an arch rival of the Deve Gowda clan, is the lead strategist for ensuring Gowda’s defeat. MLA A Manju of the Congress is
taking on Gowda here.

Gowda, the JD (S) national president, has already declared that this is the last LS election he will be facing in this political career spanning over five decades. But he has also said that he will remain active in politics. State Congress chief G Parameshwara has vowed that the Congress, the way it packed off the BJP in Bellary, would put an end to the JD (S) hegemony in Hassan. For Siddaramaiah, it is nothing short of a personal challenge to settle scores with Gowda. Siddaramaiah migrated from the JD (S) to the Congress for being denied his due, including a reported opportunity to become the chief minister during the Congress-JD (S) coalition regime in 2006.

The ruling Congress is banking on many leaders to defeat Gowda. Bringing Shivakumar to Hassan is one strategy. He was instrumental in defeating Gowda’s daughter-in-law Anita Kumara­swamy in the August 2013 by-election to Bangalore Rural parliamentary constituency, which was once a  JD (S) stronghold. He is visiting the district at least thrice a week, in addition to managing Bangalore rural elections where his brother is contesting.

Besides, three prominent leaders and once close confidants of Gowda -- former MLAs C S Putte Gowda and H M Vishwanath, and former MP H K Javare Gowda -- are now in the Congress, adding strength to the ruling party. Siddaramaiah is said to have taken the initiative to ensure that the district Congress leaders bury their hatchet and the work overtime to accomplish defeat Gowda mission.

For instance, party candidate A Manju and district Congress president B Shivaram were not seeing eye to eye. Soon after the party announced Manju’s candidature, Siddaramaiah took steps to make them shelve their differences.

Settling scores

For all of these Gowda rivals, this election is an opportunity to settle a score or two with him. Siddaramaiah, once considered the right hand man of Gowda, has so far campaigned twice in Hassan parliamentary constituency and is likely to pay one more visit.

The party has been careful not to attack BJP leaders, especially B S Yeddyurappa, during the campaign, lest it antagonise the Lingayat community, whose support is said to be key in this constituency in this election.

“There is a strong anti-Gowda feeling among people, including Vokkaligas. Gowda as an MP represents only his family and not the constituency,” Putte Gowda ridiculed.
Unmindful of the Congress strategies, the JD (S) leaders are confident that the 81-year-old Gowda will retain the seat with a huge margin. “The Congress is under a false impression that it will defeat Gowda. They (Congress leaders) are building castles in the air. They may chant ‘gooli bantu, gooli bantu...’ (the bull is charging), but nobody is scared of any bull,” JD (S) MLA H S Prakash said, referring to Shivakumar being put at the helm of Hassan campaign.

Bhavani, wife of Gowda’s son H D Revanna, is also briskly campaigning for her father-in-law. She, along with her husband, who is the MLA for Holenarasipur, is attending social gatherings and temple fairs for mass contact. She is also planning a convention of women party workers to enthuse them to work for Gowda’s victory. Her son Prajwal is intensely campaigning in Hassan, apart from focussing on Chikkaballapur and Tumkur.

Ask her how the JD (S) is gearing up to face the aggressive Congress challenge, Bhavani retorts, “Why should Gowda campaign? Why should we draw strategies? He has already won. We are not new to this constituency. Revanna and I live in Hassan 365 days a year. Deve Gowdaru ensures at least one visit to the district in a month. The constituency is a model of development for the entire state. There are six JD (S) MLAs here and they will ensure his victory.”
DH News Service

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