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Deve Gowda rises from the dust
By Nigar Ataulla

Gowda split the Congress vote bank of Muslims in at least two assembly segments in his favour.

Bangalore: "I have risen from the dust". This is how former prime minister H D Deve Gowda reacted to his victory in the Kanakapura Lok Sabha by-election defeating state Cooperation Minister Shiv Kumar by a comfortable margin of over 53,000 votes. Deve Gowda, the strongman from the Old Mysore region dominated by his Vokkaliga community Gowda won as he was able to arouse the sentiments of the Vokkaligas and his projection of self as a defeated Prime Minister in 1999. Gowda split the Congress vote bank of Muslims in at least two assembly segments in his favour. Deve Gowda, who became prime minister in 1996 at the head of a centre-left coalition, was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991 and 1998.Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (S) had the backing of the Janata Dal (United) led by former rival Ramakrishna Hegde.But his victory looked ironic because he was defeated in the 1999 general elections in the constituency. Gowda had still a long way to go and erase the stigma of being called "defeated ex-PM".

In some ways, the defeat at the hands of his former political manager, G.Puttaswamy Gowda, by a heavy margin was a humbling experience for Gowda. He vowed never to set foot on the land again. The Janata Dal(S) leadership had to make much efforts to break his resolve and bring him back here. Having set up a political base in Bangalore, he left the running of the Janata Dal(S) unit here to a few trusted leaders and his son, H.D.Revanna. Deve Gowda, however, maintained that he had no animosity towards the people of Hassan. Deve Gowda's victory has stopped the Congress march of success in Karnataka, which started in October 1999.The defeat of Shivakumar, who is the Cooperation Minister, is a setback to the Chief Minister, S. M. Krishna, who had spearheaded the Congress campaign. Gowda's election victory in Kanakapura may be a setback to Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna, but it is unlikely to have any impact on his 30-month-old government, political observers here say. It would be unrealistic to consider the result as a major setback for the Congress(I) or the government headed by S M Krishna as a single electoral defeat is no definitive statement of popular mood, especially in the special circumstances in Kanakapura where a former prime minister had taken on a politically junior candidate. 

The result has driven home the point that a united Janata Dal is a match to the Congress and has a bright future in State politics. It has been demonstrated that the Third Front, of which Deve Gowda is a strong proponent, has great potential in State politics. The two JD factions had come together to work for Gowda. The contest was seen as an important political test for both factions of the Janata Dal which are trying to come together. The doubts about the possible outcome of the election were caused by the fact that the constituency has been a stronghold of the Congress(I). In the past also, it has been seen in Karnataka that the Janata Dal is a strong political force in the state even in constituencies where the adversaries are stronger, if both factions stood together. This has again been proved correct and should give a boost to the efforts of the two factions to come together after a period of estrangement caused mainly by the personal differences and ego clashes of leaders. Continued

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