'Siddaramaiah's biggest strength is his luck'

'Siddaramaiah's biggest strength is his luck'

GT Deve Gowda

G T Devegowda, the JD(S) MLA from Chamundeshwari, has shot into fame following reports that he would emerge a giant killer as he has been giving jitters to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the constituency. Devegowda is in active politics since 1972, supporting the then MLA K Puttaswamy. Even though he is described as the ‘Chanakya’ of the old Mysuru region, who can wrest any post in any of the local bodies even under adverse circumstance, he had maintained a low-profile for a long. In a conversation with T R Sathish Kumar, he elaborates on his association with Siddaramaiah for 23 years and the turn of events, which made him to take on the chief minister head-on in Chamundeshwari.

Was there a necessity for such a high-voltage contest in Chamundeshwari?

If not for Siddaramaiah’s lack of courtesy and gratitude, the polls in Chamundeshwari would have gone un-noticed. I don’t have reservations against Siddaramaiah trying to give a foothold to his son Dr Yathindra in politics. If he wanted to see his son as an MLA, he could have chosen any of the remaining 222 constituencies in the state. Siddaramaiah need not have eyed Chamundeshwari, which he left in 2008, after representing it five times since 1983. Whether Siddaramaiah agrees or not, I was with him for over two decades. Even till recently, I did not have anything against Siddaramaiah. But, just to accommodate his son, he behaved in a selfish way, which hurt me.

There are reports that Siddaramaiah fears a defeat in Chamundeshwari. What does he fear in you? What are your strengths?

My strength is my hard work. My strength is the support of the people. For a long time, I did not have big political aspirations. I was happy the way I was. I was busy in agriculture and in the co-operative movement.

Since I entered the Zilla Parishat in 1987, up to 2008, when I joined the BJP, I was happy with the clout I enjoyed in the local bodies, including the Zilla Panchayat. I entered the Assembly only in the 1998 bypoll from Hunsur. Again, I was elected in 2004. After the 2008 defeat in Hunsur, in 2013 I shifted to Chamundeshwari, under which my native Gungral Chatra village falls.

What are Siddaramaiah’s strengths?

Siddaramaiah’s biggest strength is his luck. In the 1980 Lok Sabha polls, Siddaramaiah, as JNPS candidate, got just 8,327 out of the 4.08 lakh votes polled. In 1983, as the leader of the region, Kempiregowda wanted to defeat MLA D Jayadevaraje Urs. We zeroed in on Siddaramaiah, who was an advocate and a Raitha Sangha activist. People did not take him seriously. So, we did not use him for campaigning. Just a day before the polling, we held a bike rally from 9 am to 10 pm, across Chamundeshwari constituency. Siddaramaiah did not even have a glimpse of it. He did not spend a single rupee for the polls.

The first ever Janata Parivar government was formed in the state with Ramakrishna Hegde as the chief minister. Siddaramaiah was made the chairman of Kannada Kavalu Samiti. In 1985, he was re-elected. Then, he became finance minister, deputy chief minister twice, and finally chief minister. All along, he has enjoyed the fruits of the efforts of others.

Why do you think the polls are tough for Siddaramaiah in Chamundeshwari now?

Siddaramaiah has no special organising skills. Those who claim to be his supporters, are with him for their own benefit. He never understood the importance of the elections of local bodies. Despite being the chief minister’s home district, the Congress is not in power in most of the local bodies, including Mysuru City Corporation, Zilla Panchayat, Mysuru Taluk Panchayat and Hunsur Town Municipal Council.

The representatives of the local bodies are the ones who play a crucial role in bigger polls. I am always amidst the people. I am so much engrossed in solving the problems of the people that I don’t even have the privacy to read newspapers. Carried over by his luck, Siddaramaiah took the party workers and the people for granted. Now, given his audacity and arrogance, people will think twice, before casting their vote in his favour.