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In the midst of this drama, two veterans hold the key.
DODDA GOWDRU — IN THE THICK OF DRAMA
For a man who headed a “rag-tag” third front to become prime minister with support from the Congress in 1996, Tuesday’s political developments are nothing new for Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda. For the 85-year-old MP from Hassan, whose political career peaked to the post of PM and also plumbed the depths of relative insignificance, the offer to once again become the focal point of an unfolding political drama is a blessing in disguise to revive his JD(S).
Born to a farmer’s family from Holenarsipura in Hassan, Gowda is a diploma holder in civil engineering. He entered politics in 1956 at the young age of 26 with the Indian National Congress, and remained with the party till 1962. Denied an assembly ticket, he contested as an independent.
A founding member of the erstwhile Janata Party, with Ramakrishna Hegde, S R Bommai, J H Patel and others, Gowda grew from strength to strength and emerged as a strong Vokkaliga leader, which the community was starved of after the passing of Kengal Hanumanthaiah.
Addressed as “Dodda Gowdru” or “Appaji” (eldest Gowda or father), he rose to the post of PM after vacating the tje chief minister’s post for his colleague J H Patel, in 1994. Later, following a series of splits within the party, Gowda became the Janata Dal (Secular) and regained power in 2004 when Karnataka threw up a similar fractured mandate. Ten years later, Gowda could be back in power with just 38 elected members, and his son H D Kumaraswamy as chief minister.
GOVERNOR VALA, THE MAN OF THE MOMENT
All eyes are now on Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, with the BJP and Congress-JD(S) combine staking claim to form the government.
The former RSS man from Gujarat was appointed governor in 2014. Going by convention, Vala may invite BJP, the single largest party, to form the government. But the Congress-JD(S) have argued that governors have broken such conventions in Goa and Manipur, ignoring the single largest party and inviting two other parties which have a majority.
Vala, who had won seven successive elections from Rajkot assembly seat in Gujarat, vacated it when PM Narendra Modi wanted to contest his first election from Gujarat in 2001. In the 2002 assembly polls, Modi moved to Maninagar, and Vala contested from Rajkot West. When Modi was Gujarat chief minister, Vala held key portfolios and is believed to have proficiency on a range of sectors, including banking, real estate, finance, energy, labour, employment and transportation.
His biggest expertise, though, was finance. As Gujarat finance minister, Vala presented the state budget a record 18 times. Vala also served as speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from 2012-14.
When BJP formed the central government in 2014, Vala was rewarded with the governor’s post, and both continue to share a good rapport. Hailing from the Jan Sangh, Vala also served as Gujarat BJP president from 1996 to 1998, and from 2005 to 2006. During the Emergency, he was imprisoned in Sabarmati jail for 11 months. He was mayor in the 80s and 90s.