The genesis of the great Hegde-Gowda rivalry

The Congress’ move to put up Mamata Nichani against H.D. Kumaraswamy in Ramanagara/m has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. But as Johnson T.A. writes in the Indian Express, the coming contest recaptures a bitter rivalry between two of Karnataka’s foremost non-Congress leaders: Mamata’s father Ramakrishna Hegde and Kumaraswamy’s father H.D. Deve Gowda.

Hegde’s ascension to the chief minister’s gaddi in 1983 sowed the seeds of the rivalry between Hegde and Gowda but three specific incidents during the Janata rule are believed to have blown away the semblance of civility between the two.

# The first was when Hegde chose to nominate his then family lawyer Ram Jethmalani to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. Gowda and his supporters within the Janata Party resented the choice of ‘an outsider’ and threatened to boycott voting on the day of the elections.

# The second incident — the proverbial one that broke the camel’s back — came soon after when Hegde ordered a Corps of Detectives inquiry into allegations that Gowda as a minister allotted over 50 government sites to members of his family on the basis of allegations made by a BJP leader from Gowda’s home district of Hassan.

# The third incident is believed to be Hegde’s decision to nominate S.R. Bommai as his successor over Gowda in 1988 when Hegde decided to step down as chief minister accepting moral responsibility for tapping the phones of senior leaders in the state.

Read the full article: Play it again, Karnataka

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