They are both lawyers, were educated at Christian mission institutions, rose through the ranks of Hindu organisations, maintain personal websites — and have a hard act ahead as Karnataka’s new chief minister and likely deputy chief minister.
Two-time Member of Parliament from the coastal constituency of Udupi-Chikmagalur, DV Sadananda Gowda, 58, is an acolyte of powerful former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
Four-time MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) from rural Hubli in north Karnataka and rural development minister Jagdish Shettar, 56, is aligned with Yeddyurappa’s rival, former civil aviation minister Ananth Kumar.
Though they come from rival camps, new CM Gowda and Shettar, who could be made the deputy CM, are likely to work closely. Both are known to be non-confrontational and imbued with the ability to schmooze with party workers.
Indeed, the seemingly ever-smiling Gowda, an MLA between 1994 and 2004, lists “chatting with friends and family” as his primary hobby, followed by the folk arts, tennis and badminton — though not necessarily in that order.
Both consider themselves nationalists, with Shettar, a literature enthusiast, stating as his ambition: “Param Vaibhavam Netumetat Swarashtram (To lift the glory of our motherland to the highest peak).”
Gowda got 65 votes in a secret ballot at an internal BJP legislative party poll on Wednesday morning; Shettar got 53.
Before doing law, Gowda graduated in science from St Philomena’s College in the south-western town of Puttur. He was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP’s youth wing, and started his political career with the BJP’s predecessor, the Jana Sangh.
Shettar, a member of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and ABVP, studied in Hubli Basel Mission Primary and Secondary schools before doing a B.Com and law. He is known for his accessibility, public walkabouts and experience in governance, first as revenue minister under HD Kumaraswamy when the BJP shared power with the Janata Dal (S), and until Wednesday as rural development and panchayat raj minister.