MYSURU: Veteran politician G T Devegowda, the JD(S) MLA from Chamundeshwari constituency, is in the limelight now as he will be taking on his mentor and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Once a close associate of Siddaramaiah, Devegowda, a native of Gungaralu Chatra, has been a former minister and a three-time MLA from Hunsur and Chamundeshwari. He started his political career as secretary of the Agriculture Primary Co-operative Society.
Hailing from a farming family, he entered politics supporting the then Congress candidate Kemperegowda in the 1978 polls. Though Kemperegowda lost the election to Indira Congress candidate D Jayadevaraj Urs, Yelwal hobli of Devegowda secured him 7,900 votes. This drew the attention of others and he came in contact with Siddaramaiah in the 1983 election and was associated with him for three decades.
Devegowda won the zilla panchayat election to become its president and won the Assembly election from Hunsur. He, however, lost Parliamentary polls to Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar by a narrow margin. He fell apart with Siddaramaiah and joined BJP. However, he shifted to JD(S) and won the 2013 polls from Chamundeshwari.
“My entry into politics was accidental. I never imagined that I would contest against the Chief Minister and my one-time friend Siddaramaiah,” he said. Despite pressure, Devegowda said he stayed away from campaigning in the 2006 bypoll as he wanted to see Siddaramaiah as the CM. Recalling his association with Siddaramaiah in difficult times, he alleged that Siddaramaiah went after his rivals after he came to power.
“I also helped him shed the anti-Veerashaiva tag by suggesting to him to make M Rajashekara Murthy’s son-in-law Chidananda an MLC and fielding a Veerashaiva, Marilingaiah, from Hunsur. But Siddaramaiah changed a lot and pulled me down as the chairman of Karnataka Co-operative Federation , worked against me in the Parliamentary polls and tried to settle scores politically,” he charged.
Devegowda said Siddaramaiah has burnt his bridges with leaders and people of Chamundeshwari. After shifting to Varuna, Siddaramaiah neither visited Chamundeshwari nor called on his friends, he said. “How will people of Chamundeshwari believe him if he suddenly appears after a gap of 10 years playing the emotional card?” he asked.
Devegowda said people of Chamundeshwari know his style of functioning and his workaholic nature. Despite Siddaramaiah entering the fray, Devegowda , a prominent Vokkaliga face, has stepped up his campaign. Refusing to divulge his strategy, he said people have no love for Siddaramaiah and they would prefer electing a person who is accessible.
He said that the Deve Gowda-Kumaraswamy charisma and disgruntled Dalit leadership against Siddaramaiah’s dictatorial attitude have extended their moral support to counter the CM’s money power. He said this will also help him get the tag of a ‘giant killer.’
Claiming that he knows all tricks and strategies of Siddaramaiah, he said people of Chamundeshwari will prefer an ordinary person like him against political giants or rich candidates like Siddaramaiah.