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When ‘PM Deve Gowda’ dismissed present Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala’s govt

Vajubhai Vala became the governor of Karnataka in September 2014, months after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime took charge.

india Updated: May 16, 2018 23:07 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Vajubhai Vala,Karnataka Governor,Karnataka
Vajubhai Vala takes oath as Karnataka Governor.(HT File Photo)

The year was 1996. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat had won a floor test in the assembly on September 18. But within 24 hours, a United Front prime minister had recommended to the President to dismiss the state government based on a report by the governor of the state. The then Gujarat BJP president had cried foul, calling it a “murder of democracy”.

The prime minister who recommended dismissal of the BJP state government: HD Deve Gowda.

The Gujarat state BJP president who decried the then PM’s decision: Vajubhai Rudhabhai Vala.

The wheel has turned full circle. Today, Vajubhai Vala is the governor of Karnataka and Deve Gowda’s party Janata Dal (Secular), led by his son HD Kumaraswamy, is seeking to form a government in the state with the help of Congress. But the single-largest party, the BJP with 104 seats in the 224-member assembly, has been invited by the governor to form the government, and given 15 days to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.

Vala started as a pracharak in the Rashtriya Swamyasevak Sangh (RSS) before joining the BJP. He was elected as an MLA from Rajkot for seven terms and has held crucial portfolios of finance and revenue in the state, apart from being speaker of the Gujarat assembly.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi first contested an assembly seat in Gujarat, it was Vala who vacated his Rajkot seat for him. Once Modi shifted to Maninagar, Vala resumed contesting and winning from his old seat. Known in Gujarat as the ‘pani wala’ (water) minister for his efforts in securing water for his parched constituency, the 80-year-old Vala has presented a record 18 budgets in his home state. He was also the state BJP president credited with ensuring that the saffron party dug roots and expanded to every nook and corner of the state.

He was in the running to succeed Modi as the CM of Gujarat, but when Anandiben Patel was chosen instead, Modi handed a gubernatorial post to him. Vala became the governor of Karnataka in September 2014, months after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime took charge. His name was again mentioned as a possible contender for Gujarat CM when Anandiben stepped down in 2016, but Vijay Rupani was sworn in.

Vala has kept a low profile in Karnataka when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government was in charge. The Raj Bhavan did run into controversies in the early part of his tenure ; critics questioned the reported R4 crore spent on renovating his residence and the hiring of chartered jets to fly to Gujarat. There were also a few run-ins with the state government over the appointment of some vice-chancellors of universities, but by and large, Vala has had a cordial relationship with the Siddaramaiah government.

First Published: May 16, 2018 23:04 IST