Look, who got caught in Deve Gowda’s crossfire

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: In tying up with the Congress in May 2004, his guns may have been trained on the BJP. In tying up with the BJP 21 months ago, his guns may have been trained on the Congress.

But in summarily shooting down the BJP’s hopes yesterday, an unwitting victim may have been been caught in H.D. Deve Gowda‘s crossfire: his son H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Gowda’s younger son had built up a good image as a politician with promise during his 20-month stint as Chief Minister. Even if he didn’t seem to possess a grand vision of the State, he seemed to have stuck a chord among the people.

If nothing else, HDK had emerged as the only leader in the JDS other than Deve Gowda around whom the workers could rally around.

But all that seems to have come unstuck in a month-and-a -half: first with his father pressuring him to renege on the agreement to transfer power to BJP, and now, after offering support to the BJP before the Governor and the President, going back on it on the floor of the House.

Deve Gowda is an old warhorse with not too much energy left in the legs. But young Kumaraswamy’s carefully crafted political image has suffered a serious dent. Willy-nilly he has earned the reputation of one whose word cannot be trusted.

In the short to medium term, that may prove detrimental to the JDS as the BJP appears set to go to town and redecorate him with the crown of ‘Vachana Brashtha‘.

As the events between the fall of the first marriage and the beginning of the second honeymoon with the BJP proved, most legislators were with Kumaraswamy. They were the ones who convinced Kumaraswamy to seek a fresh tieup. And they were the ones who rebuffed Deve Gowda’s desire to make H.D. Revanna deputy chief minister.

But Yediyurappa’s fierce assault on television, built around Kumaraswamy dancing to his father’s tunes, of reneging on his word, of being obsessively interested in the lucrative portfolios, could seriously undercut his long-term dreams.

Indeed, Kumaraswamy’s plans to step into the shoes of his father to lead the party in future may have also been firmly  undermined.

Deve Gowda’s penchant to safeguard and promote his filial and familial interests is no secret. He ruthlessly deals with those who cross his path, as countless colleagues from Ramakrishna Hegde to Siddaramaiah to M.P. Prakash have found.

Kumaraswamy’s plight shows that Deve Gowda doesn’t even spare his kin if he believes they have strayed away from the lakshman rekha drawn by him.