Ever since Siddaramaiah's name was officially announced as the Congress candidate from Chamundeshwari, G.T. Deve Gowda's status has seen radical transformation
Mysuru: Up until a week ago, 68-year-old G.T. Deve Gowda had a relatively low profile outside the Janata Dal (Secular), a regional political party in Karnataka led by former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda.
Ever since Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s name was officially announced as the Congress candidate from Chamundeshwari, Gowda’s status has seen radical transformation. Gowda has attracted national attention, as he stands in the way of Siddaramaiah’s bid to a second term in the top office in the 12 May polls, if the Congress manages to win.
Gowda has the opportunity of not just defeating a sitting chief minister but also avenging his boss H.D. Deve Gowda’s defeat, and fulfilling the latter’s resolve to defeat Siddaramaiah, his former prodigy.
“I am not under any pressure, neither am I scared of contesting against the chief minister," Gowda says.
For Siddaramaiah, his entire political career, a possible second term as chief minister and the future of the Congress is at stake.
Siddaramaiah returned to Chamundeshwari after vacating his Varuna seat for his son, Yathindra Siddaramaiah, who is making his electoral debut.
“He has risked his political life for his son. He would not have this problem had he contested from Varuna. But now he spends seven-eight days campaigning here (Chamundeshwari). If this continues, what will become of the state?" said Gowda.
Gowda’s confidence stems from the fact that Chamundeshwari is Vokkaliga dominated, believed to be the second largest caste group in the state. The constituency comprises Vokkaliga, Kuruba, Veerashaiva (Lingayats), Naiks, Dalits and minorities among other communities. Siddaramaiah is a Kuruba.
Though Kurubas are not the dominant community here, Siddaramaiah was victorious in five of his seven election outings in Chamundeshwari until he switched to neighbouring Varuna constituency in 2008.
“I haven’t lost a single election from here," Gowda says, counting two zilla panchayat, one APMC, one assembly and several cooperative society elections. He hopes to better his 2013 margin of 7,103 votes.
However, skewed development—or the lack of it—has many voters up in arms against him.
“They do nothing. Look at the dust outside this shop," said 40-year-old Puttalaxmi, a small tea-stall owner in Belawadi, pointing at the un-asphalted roads. She added that it is not the chief minister’s job to check each and every village, but the legislator’s, who has to fight for his constituency.
“The chief minister did not allow me to do any work," Gowda says. But not all his constituents are convinced, turning Chamundeshwari into a pro-Siddaramaiah or anti-Siddaramaiah battle and discounting Gowda in the process.