The man and his vision

Author Sugata Srinivasaraju’s latest book gives an account of JD(S) supremo’s vast political career and some of the lesser known facts

Published: 22nd December 2021 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd December 2021 06:35 AM   |  A+A-

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (second from left) during the book launch event in Bengaluru | Nagaraja Gadekal

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Did you know as a tribute to former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, farmers in Punjab have named a rare variety of rice crops by his name? Author Sugata Srinivasaraju has penned down more such lesser known facts in his latest book Furrows in a Field: Furrows in a Field: The Unexplored Life of HD Deve Gowda (Penguin Random House, `799) which is a biography of the former prime minister. 

The book saw a grand launch by MN Venkatachaliah, former chief justice of India on December 20 at Taj West End, Bengaluru, in the presence of JD(S) supremo himself. The other guests included SS Meenakshisundaram, former secretary to government of India, Chiranjeevi Singh, former ambassador of India to UNESCO and BL Shankar, former chairman, Karnataka Legislative Council.

Srinivasaraju said that it was nothing less of a task for him to condense down Gowda’s vast political career into the book. “He has read the book and critically communicated to me that I have been fair to him, his work and his politics,” says Srinivasaraju, adding that Gowda was the one “who never traded his self esteem for power”.

Speaking about what makes Gowda different from other prime ministers, the author says Gowda was someone who was always ranked as an outsider. “The other prime ministers before him either had socio-capital, cultural capital or were from the Hindi belt. Deve Gowda was the only one who did not have any of this infrastructure,” says Srinivasaraju, pointing out unlike Narendra Modi, Gowda was not propelled by any organisations. 

The book has explained in detail Gowda’s contribution to irrigation and water sharing mechanisms. “I have been looking at World Bank documents on how he rehabilitated people for the Krishna basin project. Till date, World Bank quotes this as the finest packages that have ever been given,” says Srinivasaraju, who has been a journalist for the past 25 years. While writing about the Farakka treaty, which he ‘looked at very closely’ for which he spoke to the people of Bangladesh, he says the calculations done have not created any problem in the last 25 years. 

“That’s the accuracy with which he did it and there is a story behind it. Jyoti Basu, then CM of West Bengal, was very afraid to go ahead with it because that was something that would affect the state. People in Bihar supporting his government did not want it because a huge flood relief fund will be cancelled. There were lots of vested interests,” he explains. He continues, “One day, in a meeting, Deve Gowda says to Basu ‘I will handle Sheikh Hasina and we will do it’.”

Gowda’s dedication to work and politics is completely unmissable. “I have seen many Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers but he was that one person who used to wake up at 4-4.30 am, reads the file and makes notes,” says Meenakshisundaram, adding that a part of credit for Bengaluru’s IT park and international airport should also go to him. Praising the works of Srinivasaraju, Singh says, in the book, the author has brought out the not a politician but the man HD Devegowda. 

“This is a biography in which he looks at the beauty of Kashmir and thinks I should have brought along my wife. In the future people must be talking about his achievements in Bangladesh, Kashmir, agriculture etc, but in a political biography to maintain a balance of personal, professional and political is very difficult,” says Singh.


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