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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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24X7 politician turns 75 and loves calling the shots
May 19, 2007 - 5:47:51 PM
A firm believer in gods and astrologers, Gowda has been celebrating his birthday for the last few years by offering special prayers to Tirupati, the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateshwara in Andhra Pradesh.

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[RxPG] Bangalore, May 19 - Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, former prime minister of India and the current president of the Janata Dal-Secular -, turned 75. While publicly denying it, there is little doubt he revels in his role as Karnataka's one and only 24-hour politician.

Haradanahalli is still a sleepy hamlet in Hassan district, about 150 km from Bangalore, from where he hails, and Doddegowda is his father's name. For a man who started off as a civil contractor, H.D. Deve Gowda has come a long way in his chequered political career.

Having, by sheer chance, been the prime minister for less than a year between 1996 and 1997, Deve Gowda still dreams of being a major player in the national politics.

The reality, however, is that he is too engrossed in Karnataka politics and driven by the love for his sons, one of whom is the chief minister of Karnataka and the other, elder one, is a minister in the state. He has two more sons - one a medical doctor and another a former Karnataka Administrative Service officer.

Deve Gowda prides himself in being 'Mannina Maga' -. His adversaries, who are in large number in the state, however, deride such claims and say he is driven more by the intense desire to promote his sons' interest than of the soil -.

Totally marginalised at the national level after he lost the prime ministership, Deve Gowda briefly emerged on the top after Congress failed to win majority in Karnataka in the 2004 general elections to the 224-member state assembly.

He refused to deal with local Congress leaders, insisting that he will talk only to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She had little or no alternative to acceding to dealing with Gowda, otherwise he would have gone with the Bharatiya Janata Party - which had emerged as the single largest party in the state with about 80 seats.

Typical of Congress, Sonia Gandhi had no time for Gowda once her partyman, N. Dharam Singh, became the chief minister in the first Congress-JD- coalition government in Karnataka. Miffed at being ignored, he began attacking the Congress after a few months of government formation. His main accusation was the Congress was trying to split the JD-.

Apparently encouraged by the father's anger, H.D. Kumaraswamy staged a coup of sorts, taking away majority of JD- legislators with him to strike a deal with the BJP and brought down the Dharam Singh government early last year.

Gowda fumed, cried, suspended his son and other legislators supporting him from the party, only to pardon him and the rest of the flock once Kumaraswamy was firmly placed in the chief minister's seat.

The new coalition partners agreed to split the 40 months remaining for the government on the basis of 20:20 with the JD- occupying the chair first. With only a few months left to hand over the power to the BJP, Gowda has begun to find faults with the saffron outfit.

He wants them to follow coalition 'dharma', advises them to learn from their leader and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and worse, considers the state BJP leaders to be not mature enough to head a government in the state!

The BJP is desperate to come to the government in the south, even in a coalition. Hence it is confused and does not know how to handle Gowda. First it was counter-attack, followed by claims that the understanding is with Kumaraswamy and not Gowda, followed by virtual surrender.

Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa of the BJP has vowed not to reply to Gowda's barbs through the media and decided to frequently meet him to fulfil his commands.

A firm believer in gods and astrologers, Gowda has been celebrating his birthday for the last few years by offering special prayers to Tirupati, the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateshwara in Andhra Pradesh.

On Friday, he was there with some family members while his party members organised blood donation camps and distributed fruits to patients at several places across Karnataka.

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