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Deve Gowda wins, but his dreams of national role dashed

May 17, 2009 16:17 IST
Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular chief H D Deve Gowda's unimpressive show in his home state of Karnataka has ruined his aspirations of playing a key role on national scene through the much touted Third Front which took a beating at the national level also.

Keeping aside his health problems, Gowda, considered one of the prime movers of the Third Front, plunged into the thick of electioneering, criss-crossing the state

attacking Bharatiya Janata Party's governance, hoping to reap an impressive harvest of seats that would give him good leverage at the national level.

Gowda, who turns 77 on Monday, won hands down by a whopping margin of 2.91 lakh votes in his bastion Hassan against weak Congress and BJP candidates-- B Shivaramu and K H Hanumegowda respectively.

Gowda's son and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who had created a flutter with his hush-hush meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi ahead of the polls, cruised to a comfortable win with a margin of over one lakh votes.

Seeking to downplay his son's meeting with Gandhi, Gowda had said, "I am neither interested in becoming a King nor a King maker." Ironically, this has become a reality with the Third Front, launched in Karnataka on March 12, ending up with 68 seats and the United Progressive Alliance all set to form government on its own.

 The JD-S could win only three seats out of the 19 it contested, just one more than the 2004 tally. Gowda whose party reportedly had a tacit understanding with Congress, could not succeed in his effort to stop the juggernaut of BJP, which won 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats, one more than in the 2004 polls.

JD-S chief's calculations of not fielding his party candidates in a couple of seats reportedly to help the Congress to defeat BJP went awry. Candidates of the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, part of the Third Front, in Udupi-Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada respectively, could also not breach the saffron citadel.

JD-S did not contest the Shimoga seat to help veteran leader S Bangarappa of Congress to humble Yeddyurappa's son B Y Raghavendra, but the calculation went wrong here too.

In Bellary, Gowda adopted a similar strategy to strike at the enormous influence being wielded in the state government by high-flying mine owners and ministers-- G Janardhana Reddy, G Karunakara Reddy and B Sreeramulu. However Sreeramulu's sister J Shanta of BJP scraped through by a slender margin of 2,000-odd votes.

To the consternation of Gowda, in all the constituencies where the JD-S either did not field candidates or supported left parties, BJP won them with ease.

Despite these setbacks, Kumaraswamy said his party was open to support the UPA government "if Congress seeks it." Besides Hassan, JD-S won in Bangalore Rural and Mandya.

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