H D Deve Gowda, 12th Prime Minister who marks a 7-decade journey in public life

Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda served as the Prime Minister of India for 324 days — from June 1, 1996, to April 21, 1997.

Deve Gowda was sworn in as the country’s 12th PM in a dramatic political development that unfolded following the fall of the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government on May 27, 1996.

When the then Vajpayee government could not prove its majority on the floor of the House, non-BJP and non-Congress parties came together to form a coalition called the United Front. Gowda, who was then a Janata Dal leader and Karnataka Chief Minister, finally emerged as their choice for the top post. Gowda resigned as the CM on May 30, 1996, to be sworn in as the PM. When he took oath as the PM, he was not a member of either of the two Houses of Parliament.

Born on May 18, 1933, at Haradanahalli village in Holenarasipura taluk in Karnataka’s Hassan district, Gowda studied at Smt. L.V. Polytechnic, Hassan, and got a diploma in civil engineering.

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He entered politics at a very early age after completing his education and joined the Congress party in 1953. He remained a Congress member till 1962.

He then contested the Karnataka Assembly election as an Independent candidate from Holenarasipura constituency and won. He served as a member of the Karnataka Assembly for 7 terms till 1989.

During 1972-76, Gowda was the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly. In 1983, he became the public works and irrigation minister and held the portfolio till 1989. Thereafter, he moved to national politics.

Gowda contested in the 1991 Lok Sabha polls from Hassan, and won. As an MP, he served on various parliamentary committees. Two years later, he returned to Karnataka politics when he was appointed as the state Janata Dal president. A year later, in 1994, he took over as the CM. He remained the CM till May 30, 1996.

Gowda’s prime ministerial tenure was short-lived as the Congress, which was extending outside support to his government, pulled the plug within a year. He was replaced as the PM by another United Front leader, Indra Kumar Gujral, on April 21, 1997.

When elections to the 12th Lok Sabha were held in 1998, Gowda again won from his home turf, Hassan. However, in the 1999 polls, he lost to a Congress candidate.

Gowda again won from Hassan in the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004. He was re-elected from the same seat in the 2009 and 2014 elections too. In the 2019 polls, he contested from Tumkur and lost to a BJP candidate. Currently, he is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

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