By Aditya Aamir
HD Devegowda and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Both are getting on in age. But time and tide don’t stop the brave. And the grateful! Both have political oats enough to stay on course. Add to the duo, young Varun Gandhi and the trio’s admission to the ‘Circle of Gratitude’ is established. All three “owe” to politicians and they are not unwilling to pay back, with gratitude!
HD Devegowda gratitude to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi; Mulayam Singh Yadav’s gratitude to Mayawati and Varun Gandhi’s gratitude to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. One represents Karnataka. The other two from the state which gave Prime Ministers on a platter to India – Uttar Pradesh: Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh, Chandrashekhar, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narendra Modi…
The next one could also be from Uttar Pradesh, and Mulayam Singh Yadav maybe has an outside chance, remote. It will, however, need a programme change. A post-poll change of channels. Mulayam would rather not talk of it now. Not when son Akhilesh Yadav is tied up with Mayawati in a gathbandhan unbreakable on the one point that BSP will transfer Dalit votes to Samajwadi Party candidates and, in turn, SP will help her realize her ambition to become Prime Minister. Mulayam is willing to set aside his own PM-aspirations for party and family, though not necessarily in that order.
For now, Mulayam is awful grateful to Mayawati for the gathbandhan with SP. Even if till as late as the first week of April, he was quite cut up with Akhilesh for joining hands with, of all the people, Mayawati! A collaboration, which he thought was not good for the Samajwadi Party because it reduced the number of seats the SP could contest.
Today, Mulayam is grateful to Mayawati. Both addressed a joint rally in Mulayam’s citadel Mainpuri. The first time the two were on the same stage since 1995 when the infamous ‘guesthouse khand’ ripped apart the then SP-BSP alliance. Twenty-four years later, Mulayam said the joint rally was “historic” and Mayawati called Mulayam the real “grassroots OBC leader”, not the “fake OBC” like Narendra Modi. Proof of how gratitude can repair torn and twisted relations: One good deed deserved another.
Mulayam is 79 and, probably, Mayawati thinks too old to stand in the way of her becoming Prime Minister. Mulayam, for all his differences with son Akhilesh, is still a family man and wedded to the Samajwadi Party, which he refuses to leave for Akhilesh. The son, in turn, is aware that the SP without Mulayam would be earth without the north-pole. This thought might have also crossed Mayawati’s shrewd political mind.
It’s a gratitude gathbandhan: They’ll all stick together till the next commercial, oops… political, break is announced. Which brings us to HD Devegowda, the man who chanced to become Prime Minister! The first one from South India and the first from outside Uttar Pradesh. He became PM with Congress support, for which he was grateful till the day the same Congress “back-stabbed” and left him on the mat after pulling the carpet from under his feet.
Then, he was the tragic figure, widely sympathized for being victim to betrayal. Today, aged 85, Devegowda is contesting from Tumkur constituency, and is back to being grateful to the Congress. A full circle! Devegowda says he’ll sit by “Rahul Gandhi’s side” if and when Rahul becomes Prime Minister. The octogenarian has no ambition to become Prime Minister again, which his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said could be a possibility.
Devegowda ruled out the possibility outright. He is satisfied to display his gratitude to “Madam Sonia Gandhi” for supporting a “small party” like the Janata Dal (S) to form the government in Karnataka. For now, his only goals are to “save family” and then “save party office building.” His grandson and nephew are also in the fray for the Lok Sabha and it is dynasty all the way.
Varun Gandhi? He is, maybe, if not the old man, the odd man out in the “grateful troika”, but his gratitude is no less than that of Mulayam and Devegowda. Again, like the other two, he is a dynast, part of the extended Nehru-Gandhi family and of the mother-son dynasty of Sanjay Gandhi, the firebrand father he never saw. Varun Gandhi is 39 and had become Member of Parliament at age 29 courtesy the Bharatiya Janata Party. Varun contested 2014 from Sultanpur and Maneka from Pilibhit. This time, it’s a swap: Maneka from Sultanpur, and Varun from Pilibhit.
Varun is grateful to BJP President Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “respect” they have shown to “mother and son”. The BJP rule otherwise is not to give tickets to two members of one family. But in the case of Maneka and Varun Gandhi, the party set aside the rule. “As loyal soldiers of the party, we will go by whatever the party decides for us. We are the only to people from a family, who have BJP tickets… The party has given us a lot and we respect whatever decision it takes about us,” says Varun Gandhi, his gratitude to Modi and Shah removing any doubts that he was thinking of a reunion with cousins Rahul and Priyanka, and joining the Congress. .
All three – Mulayam, Devegowda and Varun Gandhi – are career politicians and belong to political dynasties. And while serving the people is the larger aim of all three, the immediate goal is to ensure the families stayed relevant in politics. Therefore, the gratitude for those who helped them achieve this goal. (IPA Service)