Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Deve Gowda is braving old age and poor health to sparingly campaign for his partys candidates. But the former prime minister is also nursing many old wounds such as the hurt to his pride and self-esteem and will bare it all in his autobiography shortly after the elections.
For instance,the then Congress president Sitaram Kesri,with his vaulting ambition,might have withdrawn the partys support to the United Front government to oust Gowda from the PMs post in 1997,but Gowda says he has no grudge now.
Kesri had been misled by various forces. I was the first one to lay a wreath on his body after his demise, Gowda,who turns 80 next month,told The Indian Express.
Two days before he had to resign,Gowda says he received a Congress Working Committee member now a permanent invitee to the CWC and who had been a close aide of Indira Gandhi as an emissary from Kesri informing Gowda that Kesri had realised his mistake and the Congress would continue to support Gowda on two conditions: an apology for ignoring the party and a promise to consult the Congress president before taking any decision.
I said no. If I went to the Congress president every morning before taking a decision,the office of the prime minister would be totally destroyed. I would have proved myself to be one of the weakest prime ministers. With what moral courage could I then go abroad and sign agreements and treaties? Vajpayeeji and others too offered to support the government,but I said no, recalls Gowda.
As for his likely role in the possible formation of a third front ahead of the 2014 elections,the former Karnataka chief minister says: What for? I dont want to be in the forefront of any third front. If anyone else does it,whatever little strength we have in Parliament,we would try to extend our cooperation.
Gowda is hurt by the fact that his contribution as prime minister in a brief stint of ten-and-a-half months is not acknowledged: I failed to manage the media. Who cleared Delhi Metro? Which PM visited J&K five times? Who visited each and every northeastern state in such a short time? Who persuaded Sunderlal Bahuguna not to stop the Tehri dam project? During whose tenure did a Chinese President visit India after a gap of over three decades? Gowda said.
I took the decision to introduce PDS to cover 36 crore BPL families. I gave a free hand to the CBI. I am least bothered whether people remember my contributions. History will be there to record it.
The former PM is also hurt by the way he is treated in the Lok Sabha. They used to give me sufficient time to speak. But,during UPA-2,they say your party has got just three minutes to speak. I am called after Lalu. I am the 13th man to be called. I wait for two days to speak only to be told that I can submit my written speech, Gowda said.
While Gowda terms Gujarats post-Godhra riots heinous,he reserves his judgment on Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate.
Even minorities have adjusted themselves to his style of functioning in Gujarat. It is on account of the failure of the Congress, he said. Gowda is noncommittal also about whether the JD(S) would back the UPA or the NDA. It is too early for anybody to think on those lines. The DMK could go with both the NDA and the UPA. I dont know how things will develop. These things are premature.