Karnataka witnesses another era of a spat involving the former Prime Minister
As a politician, Janata Dal Secular leader HD Deve Gowda has more than one unique distinction to his credit. That he has been the first Prime Minister from south India is just one of them.
But he also has the peculiar distinction of epochal battles with two generations of politicians thanks to the sheer experience of being active for over six decades on the political firmament - just a wee bit less than the doyen Muthuvel Karunanidhi of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.
The bitterness against then chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde in the mid-1980s was a battle of yore. Barbs, sarcasm and anger were exchanged like cluster bombs between the two stalwarts.
"We have seen that era of Deve Gowda against Hegde. We are now seeing another era of Deve Gowda versus Siddaramaiah," said a close associate of Deve Gowda, strictly on condition of anonymity.
During the last few days, Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah have had a verbal duel that would be a good lesson for anyone aspiring to become a politician. The two have exchanged many accusations and parted with information that was always mentioned strictly on the basis of anonymity.
Like Siddaramaiah saying that he did suggest to the Congress high command that the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress should not go together in the Lok Sabha elections of May but "we should have friendly fights."
Or Deve Gowda saying that Siddaramaiah never reconciled to the Congress offering the chief minister’s post to his son, HD Kumaraswamy, without consulting him.
The Congress high command's decision even before all the results of the 2018 assembly election were announced was made to end the BJP campaign of Congress-Mukt Bharat.
Siddaramaiah admitted that he had no go but to abide by the decision of the high command and he did so like a loyal partyman.
But he was just not prepared to accept the other charge of Deve Gowda that he had brought down the Kumaraswamy government to facilitate BS Yediyurappa to head the BJP government.
Siddaramaiah countered this by saying that it was Deve Gowda who had brought down the SR Bommai ministry. And that it was Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy who had aligned with and later helped the BJP come to power in 2008.
For 14 months, the JDS-Congress coalition government survived with some issue or controversy hogging the limelight. They stuck together only because they presumed that together their votes would outnumber that of the BJP in southern Karnataka.
And southern Karnataka has been the battlefield where the two - the Congress and the JDS - have fought bitter battles since the 1980s. The BJP had its small little patches which did not prevent either the JDS or the Congress winning a majority of the seats.
The coming together of these two parties only made the party workers so bitter that they worked against the interest of the other, benefiting the BJP and enabling them to get a toehold in the region. In short, the anti-Congress vote, which was with the JDS all these years, went away to the BJP.
But what is clear is that the heated exchange between Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah is only the first step towards a break-up of the alliance like in Uttar Pradesh between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.
It is most likely that it will also lead to the possible realignment of forces with some from the JDS and even the Congress, moving over to the BJP.
Not very different from the actions of the MLAs who are fighting their disqualification from the membership of the assembly before the Supreme Court.