Tag Archives: karnataka

Deve Gowda – 50 years in politics

– Bhoomi Banu

Deve Gowda has completed 50 years in politics, considering his first election to Karnataka Assembly in 1962 as the beginning of his political career. Undoubtedly he stands first among the popular leaders with huge population behind him. Of course, he had downfalls in his career graph. But his success lies in his capacity to rise from status zero. His party’s strength was reduced to negligible numbers after the split in the Janata Dal in 1998. In the very next elections (2004) he rose to become the kingmaker.

Despite his long career in politics he enjoyed the prime position for a lesser period. He was the Chief Minister for eighteen months and the Prime Minister for little over 10 months. Though he was elected to the assembly in 1962, elevated to the position of the leader of Opposition in 1972 and led the Janata Party to assume power in 1983, he had to wait till 1994 to become the Chief Minister.

His journey was not a smooth sail. He had to fight with leaders of forward community within the party, cut short growth of other promising leaders from his own community and select a few who would hardly challenge his leadership as his followers. By and large he succeeded in his efforts. Now his children also enjoy fruits of his hard labour.

No doubt the fact that he belongs to a socially not-so-backward land holders’ community has been the major influencing factor for his overall growth in politics. Had he belonged to any other backward class his career would not have been what it is today. In other words, he would not have enjoyed as many positions as he could.

Despite his long stint in politics Deve Gowda has not been able to extend his support base beyond Vokkaliga belt. Neither backward classes nor minorities opt to identify themselves with the JD(S). The gravest strength and weakness of the JD(S) is that is has been deemed to be Vokkaliga’s party. In some constituencies minorities and a few backward classes might have favoured the JD(S). But that is insufficient to term the party as minorities’ choice or backward classes’ favourite.

H.D Kumaraswamy’s misdemeanor in 2006 proved costly for the party. He joined hands with the BJP and became the CM. That move widened the gap between the JD(S) and the minorities. Similarly Siddaramaiah’s exit from the party prompted the a few backward classes, if not all, view the JD(S) suspiciously.

Besides, the JD(S) supreme leader Deve Gowda time and again favoured people from his own community for important positions. The BJP is also seeing his hand in appointment of Justice Chandrashekharaiah as Upalokayukta. The chemistry between the JD(S) and the BJP underwent a serious change after B.S Yeddyurappa was replaced by a Gowda. And, interestingly, that change in chemistry caused reactions in the BJP too.

Deve Gowda and his family members have their say in the recruitments done by Karnataka Public Service Commission. If someone makes a detail study of people recruited under the general category and the 3A through KPSC he/she can easily make out the influence of the Gowda clan.

Deve Gowda’s vociferous protest against Havanur’s committee report during Devraj Urs’s rule is well documented. Ironically, Deve Gowda chose to felicitate Mr. L.G. Havanur when he was on the mission to woo ST votes.

Politicians across the political spectrum accept that Deve Gowda is clever and also a man of schemes. He chooses the right pawn to move on right occasions. Soon after Siddaramaiah left the party, he raised his voice for internal reservation with the backward class categories. Despite having son in the CM’s gaddi he could not reclassify the reservation.

The legal battle he has waged against Ashok Kheny’s BMIC project is a landmark episode of his career. He has not given up the struggle. It is sad that the successive governments played to the tunes of the private project promoter at the cost of poor people’s hard earned land. It is equally sad that Deve Gowda’s struggle for justice in this case has not gone down well with the people other than those directly impacted by design of the project. It is also true that the JD(S) has failed to communicate the alleged injustice caused by the project to the public at large. As he grew older, Deve Gowda lost the patience to communicate the issue in the language understood by the present generation. As a result sections of media and society view his struggle as Gowda’s fight against a Lingayat project promoter.

Besides, Deve Gowda has failed to build his party on a strong ideological base. He himself did not follow any ideology, except the ideology of convenience. His son emerged as his heir apparent after a coup against the Congress-JD(S) combine. He is also going on the same path as his father did. His burst of anger in reaction to Siddaramaiah’s question why could not he nominate any among – M.C Nanaiah, PGR Sindhia, Basavaraj Horatti – as next CM candidate from the JD(S), alone is enough to understand he would not be different from his father. The tradition of family rule continues.


Sangliana refuses money game, BJP spending freely – Wikileaks

The Chennai Consulate of the United States thought of Sangliana as an honest politician and followed him on the campaign trail during 2009 parliamentary elections, according to wikileaks. This is the complete memo sent from the Chennai Consulate to their bosses on 2009-04-30 07:16, as per and published by Wikileaks.org.


1. (SBU) Summary: During a recent trip to the south Indian state Karnataka, we followed a Congress party candidate as he campaigned through the streets of Bangalore. The candidate’s campaign events were modest in size and the reception he received varied based on the location’s political leanings. The candidate, a Christian, focused his campaign message on the importance of harmony between India’s various religious communities. The constituency is a favorable one for the Congress party, as it contains a high percentage of Christians and Muslims, two groups that historically have supported the party. Political analysts and Congress party insiders, however, believe that the candidate’s unwillingness to offer financial and material inducements to voters may doom his chances, especially in light of the profligate spending of candidates from the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). End summary.

Lukewarm reception for Congress candidate on BJP turf
2. (SBU) We recently followed H.T. Sangliana, the Congress party candidate for one of Bangalore’s four parliamentary seats, on the campaign trail. Sangliana, a former police chief, has a reputation for moral rectitude. A practicing Christian, Sangliana attended the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on February 5. At his first stop, fire



crackers, drums, and the chanting of Congress party workers announced the candidate’s arrival. Though Sangliana’s campaign team tried hard to drum up local support in the BJP-friendly neighborhood the candidate was visiting, less than a dozen people turned out to greet the former police chief. Sangliana was undeterred; he stood tall on the back of a jeep, waving at onlookers and community members who appeared uninterested and unimpressed by the procession. One voter’s rush to destroy and discard a flyer which she had just received from one of Sangliana’s workers exemplified the BJP-heavy neighborhood’s lack of support for the Congress party candidate.

Congress fans enthused by talk of religious harmony, secularism
3. (SBU) Fortunately for Sangliana, his next stop was a mixed-income neighborhood known for its pro-Congress stance. The motorcade twisted and turned down roads lined with contrasting rows of modern high rise apartment buildings interspersed with makeshift shanties. Sangliana stopped in front of a building where a crowd of approximately sixty to seventy supporters gathered. Though the crowd was still quite small by Indian standards, the group of mostly lower income residents appeared quite receptive to the politician. Loudspeakers blared slogans like “Vote for Congress” and “Remember number four” (the four refers to the number assigned to Sangliana in the poll booths). Sangliana’s campaign workers mimicked the Congress party’s trademark electoral symbol – the palm of a hand — by raising the palms of their own hands in a sign of loyalty to the party. Members of the crowd reciprocated with their own palms, as young Congress party workers clambered onto Sangliana’s open jeep to garland him and take advantage of the photo-op.

4. (SBU) After the garlanding, Sangliana addressed the crowd in the Kannada language. Voters cheered Sangliana’s vision of universal access to water and fewer traffic bottlenecks in the neighborhood. But Sangliana focused less on local issues than a broader message of religious unity and secularism in his impromptu speech. Sangliana, a Christian himself, emphasized the need for religious tolerance among India’s Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities by alluding to a popular old Bollywood movie which centered on three brothers, each of whom ended up adopting a different religion. He pointed to attacks on religious minorities in Mangalore (ref C) as evidence of the ruling BJP’s inability to unify Karnataka and said that Congress, as a secular party, is the only one capable of unifying Karnataka and India as a wole.

5. (SBU) Sangliana’s campaign swing conclued with a public meeting in Muslim dominated neihborhood, where over two hundred party workers and supporters gathered to hear various Congress part officials speak. A local wrestler kicked off the event by saying that the attacks on minoritiesin Mangalore illustrate the effect of having the BJP in power (refs B and C). He added that the situation would be aggravated should the BJP win in the national elections. Fear that the BJP would prevail if the Muslim vote split between Sangliana and JDS candidate Ahmed Zameer reverberated throughout all of the speeches. According to local contacts, Congress and the JDS have entered into a tacit understanding with Zameer appearing to have ceded to Sangliana. But Congress members fear that Zameer’s supporters, many of whom are still actively campaigning on his behalf, could negatively impact Sangliana’s chances (ref A). The Congress speakers used the forum adress this problem by emphasizing the importance of Muslim unity.

Too honest to win?
6. (SBU) While Sangliana’s message of uniy and economic development seemed to resonate among his base, political observers in Karnataka do not rate Sangliana’s chances of winning very high. A local journalist said that Sangliana’s lack of financial resources, and his unwillingness to expand his financial network, would affect him negatively at the polls. According to another political analyst, Sangliana’s honesty is the biggest stumbling block to his campaign. He noted that political parties spend large sums of money to buy favors, such as food, clothing, and alcohol, as incentives to voters for their support (ref C). He said that in the absence of the necessary funds to buy such gifts, Sangliana could lose a considerable number of votes, even from his core constituency of Congress party supporters. Congress leader Roshen Baig said that BJP will capitalize on Sangliana’s failure to provide the expected incentives. He said that the BJP was already paying Christian voters in the constituency, a group that has historically backed Congress, in exchange for their support. Loss of a substantial number of Christian voters would doom Sangliana’s chances to win the seat.

7. (SBU) Sangliana’s lack of financial resources limits his capacity to reach the maximum amount of voters, says Baig. While Baig refused to admit to buying votes himself, he did say that even the most righteous politicians must sometimes go against their principles in order to win. He stated that Sangliana’s unwillingness to understand this reality will hurt his prospects, as he simply cannot compete with the exorbitant sums of money that the BJP is infusing into its campaign. Baig pointed to the three million dollars in cash recently found in a BJP supporter’s residence and later seized by election commission officials, as evidence of the BJP’s financial edge (ref C). He added that he had tried to help Sangliana by putting him in touch with some of his contacts but Sangliana’s “rigid stand” on campaign finance made it difficult for him to raise funds on his behalf.

8. (SBU) The BJP has a strong incentive to defeat Sangliana. He rose to BJP fame in 2004, while a BJP member, as a “giant killer” for winning a Lok Sabha seat by upsetting senior Congress party leader and former Railways Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief. Sangliana voted in favor of U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation in August 2008, defying the party leadership, and the BJP expelled him. Shortly thereafter, Sangliana switched over to the rival Congress party, which put him up to contest for the Bangalore seat.

Religion and money in Indian politics: Sangliana has one on his side, but not the other
9. (SBU) Comment: Sangliana’s campaign for the Bangalore Central constituency is an example of how different factors compete in Indian politics. In the case of Sangliana’s constituency, religion and money are driving the contest. Religion makes the constituency hospitable turf for Sangliana; Christians and Muslims, which have historically been key Congress supporters, make up over forty percent of the electorate. But Sangliana refuses to play the money game, while his BJP opponent is spending freely on the incentives voters expect to see from their politicians. It remains to be seen whether money trumps religion, but things are not looking up for Sangliana’s efforts to win in this Congress-leaning constituency. End comment.

(Courtesy: wikileaks.org)