Famous for his faith in astrology, Janata Dal (S) supremo, Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, has reportedly been on a temple hopping spree ever since a family astrologer predicted he could play an important role in the new year. With the only role important enough to fuel his interest being that of the Prime Minister of the country, political observers believe he is waiting to be invited to fill the position once again.
What's more, he has done a volte face on his political future, quietly retracting his decision to retire from politics and many see this as an indication of his growing ambition to be Prime Minister again. The son of a farmer from Haradanahalli, a nondescript village in Hassan district, the octogenarian has already served the country as Prime Minister for almost 13 months from June 1, 1996 to April 21, 1997 before his government was pulled down by the Congress.
A civil contractor by profession before the lure of politics changed his destiny path, he now appears to have set his sights on a second innings as the country's Premier. And he could realise his dream should the "mahaghatbandhan," an umbrella of various regional parties and the Congress party, decide to opt for an experienced leader as the Prime Minister instead of the relatively inexperienced Congress president, Rahul Gandhi in the event of a fractured mandate in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
A senior JD(S) leader believes Mr Deve Gowda has every chance of playing a pivotal role in national politics in 2019 owing to his wide acceptance among the many regional parties, which are not in favour of having Mr Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister, angered by the Congress' big brother attitude.
Giving an indication of his revived ambitions, the JD(S) stalwart invited all anti-Modi campaigners like West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, BSP supremo, Mayawati, and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, among other leaders, for the swearing-in ceremony of his son, H D Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister of Karnataka in Bengaluru in June this year. With the Congress being a partner in the state's coalition government, also present on the occasion were UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi and Congress president, Rahul Gandhi.
Seeing the leaders present announce the formation of a "mahaghatbandhan" to dislodge the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre, Mr Gowda has been busy using his time and experience to bring all Modi- haters together and form a grand coalition government at the Centre.
Also, demonstrating his growing interest in national politics, he recently attended the swearing- in ceremonies of the Congress Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. His equations with Mr Rahul Gandhi are said to have improved to such a degree of late that he now sees him as a saviour of his son's coalition government. While this could earn him the Congress president's backing should he make a pitch for the Prime Minister's post, it's not clear whether he will have the support of Ms Mamata Banerjee or Ms Mayawati as both women too are said to nurse ambitions of heading the nation with the help of like-minded parties.
In the south of the country, however, there is unlikely to be any competition for Mr Gowda as Mr Chandrababu Naidu, is apparently not willing to go to Delhi just yet despite doing everything possible to stitch together an anti-Modi alliance.