Deve Gowda’s most trusted aide, a one-time school teacher, learns a lesson but puts his voters to test

Janata Dal (Secular), the third bedfellow in Karnataka’s political harem, is in a piquant position with the result of the 2018 slugfest just a couple of torrid nights away.

No one knows which partner it will roll across and cling on to, by mid-day Tuesday. And no one knows the posture they will adopt, for how long, and how the spurned “other” will react.

That alone should convey the fall of the Janata Dal—-from Ramakrishna Hegde’s advocacy of value-based politics” to the practice of politics-based values.

H.D. Deve Gowda claims he will disown his younger son H.D. Kumaraswamy if he sleeps with the BJP again, but those who know “Brother” (a word HDK uses for all) are aware of his lust, political and otherwise.

One man who has seen #JDS in all its vicissitudes is Y.S.V. Datta, the school teacher who has been Deve Gowda’s eyes, ears, lips and fingers for 41 years.

Datta, 64, has worked with the Janata Dal giants—Gowda, Hegde, J.H.Patel, S.R.Bommai—and he has seen the gnomes nibbling away at the party’s core philosophy and ideology.

In #Kadur, where he is standing for a second term as MLA, Datta cuts a forlorn figure, as the shadow of caste and currency gets darker, deeper and wider in Karnataka.

In 2013, Datta won handsomely.

In 2018, things are not so simple, despite a 1,000 km pada yatra.

The #Lingayat votes are with the BJP. The #Dalit, backward class and minority votes are with the Congress. Deve Gowda’s #Vokkaligas are just a couple of thousand.

So, how is Datta, a #Brahmin, to win from a seat where his kinsmen number a mere 500, in a constituency of over 200,000, despite his stature as party ideologue, despite his record as an elected MLA?

How is he to win when his rivals are dishing out multiples of demonetised Rs 500 notes, and he has but Rs 1.5 lakhs in a joint account with his wife and sister?

“Usually, voters put the candidate to test,” says Datta. “This time, I am putting the voters to test. I have not bribed them before. I will not bribe them. If I lose, so be it.”