Railway minister Devaragunda Venkappa Sadananda Gowda, the soft-spoken, ever-smiling lawyer from Coastal Karnataka, is no mass leader.
He neither has the backing of a dominant caste as does BS Yeddyurappa, nor does he lord over a constituency like six-time Bangalore South MP Ananth Kumar.
Technically he belongs to the Vokkaliga community, but his caste brethren do not see him as one of their own as he does not hail from South Karnataka, where the Vokkaligas are a formidable force. Back home in Coastal Karnataka, members of his community are considered outsiders although they have lived there for generations.
And yet, the political journey of the man they call 'DV' has been nothing short of spectacular.
Few had heard of him outside Coastal Karnataka when a besieged BS Yeddyurappa appointed DV as his successor in August 2011. His victory in the recent elections from Bangalore North, where he is an outsider, was attributed to the Modi wave. His two previous Lok Sabha victories from Udupi and Dakshina Kannada constituencies too were attributed to the party's formidable mass base in Coastal Karnataka.
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He surprised many when he was chosen ahead of Ananth Kumar and Yeddyurappa for the plum post of railway minister. Corruption allegations did Yeddyurappa in, while Kumar was seen as a loyalist of LK Advani, say party insiders.
An RSS worker for over 40 years, Gowda's career is an example of how far one can go by staying loyal to the party. Never one to make a controversial statement or get involved in factionalism, he is seen as one of the most dependable leaders within the state BJP.
What's more, ever since he became railway minister, both the Vokkaligas of South Karnataka and the residents of Coastal Karnataka have started claiming him as one of their own.
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