Karnataka Election 2023: Ailing HD Deve Gowda hits the campaign trail, becomes oldest JD-S star campaigner

Karnataka Election 2023: Ailing HD Deve Gowda hits the campaign trail, becomes oldest JD-S star campaigner

A month before the election dates were announced, 89-year-old Gowda landed in a hospital with serious age-related ailments.

Shankar RajUpdated: Friday, May 05, 2023, 10:16 PM IST
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Defying friends, critics and sympathisers, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda has bounced back from his hospital bed to lead the election campaign for his party, the JD-S, in Karnataka for the May 10 Assembly poll.

A month before the election dates were announced, 89-year-old Gowda landed in a hospital with serious age-related ailments. Nobody expected him to campaign, leave alone take over the reins of the party. Today, he is leading from the front and is the oldest star campaigner.

“I cannot say I am fit to work round the clock, but my health has been good. In fact, I was unwell during the 2018 poll campaign. Comparitively, I am better now. Of course, kidney-related issues do exist. I must take a course of 12 injections, of which I have taken 10 so far. But it has not been a deterrent,” Gowda told the media.

Electioneering appears to be the best medicine for Gowda, known as the ‘24-hour politician'.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress general secretary Priyanka Vadra are hogging all the limelight in the campaigning, Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy are working quietly. Gowda has addressed more than 15 rallies in the past week and has taken it upon himself, along with Kumaraswamy, to ensure a JD-S victory.

“Being a small regional party, we don’t have the luxury of a galaxy of star campaigners, unlike the national parties,” Gowda said.

“While loyal party workers are our real strength, Kumaraswamy and I have shouldered the responsibility to reach out to people. The response has been very good,” said Gowda, the man who seldom smiles.

Gowda has already addressed rallies in Bengaluru Urban and Rural, Ramanagara, and Dakshina Kannada. “He has attended the highest number of public rallies in the past week. More have been lined up. Health is not an issue at all,” said KA Tippeswamy, convener, JD-S poll campaign.

Party functionaries say the presence of the father-son duo has enthused cadre.

But the stakes are high for JD-S in the Vokkaliga belt in the Old Mysore region, the party’s traditional stronghold. In the 2018 poll, it won all the seven seats in Mandya and six of the seven seats in Hassan. But it faces a tougher contest this time around.

“I am aware of the challenge. We need to repeat the record performance in these districts,” he said.

“I will camp in these districts and ensure my party bags the highest number of seats. Kumaraswamy will travel elsewhere, and I am confident we will form the government on our own.”

Gowda will spend the week in the run-up to election day on May 10 touring Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Tumakuru, and Ramanagara.

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