In Bangalore, there are reporters (not all cubs, mind you) who quiver at the prospect of a “H.D. Deve Gowda assignment”; so scared they are of the arched eyebrows, the permanent scowl, and the fulmination of the farmer. The newspapers are too polite to report it, but when he gets real irritated, the former prime minister of a nation of a billion is not loathe to using the kind of language that, well, a former prime minister of a nation of a billion should not be using.
But Deve Gowda can also be extremely charming when the need arises. With the poll bells about to toll, that need has arisen. In a lovely conversation dripping with desi sarcasm with the editorial staff of the Indian Express, Delhi, Deve Gowda admits that he has not had a very good relationship with the media. Which is why it has consistently projected him in poor light as “anti-development” and a hindrance to Karnataka for the last six years.
“I am a blunt fellow, and maybe that’s the reason. When I resigned from Ramakrishna Hegde’s government, he asked me why. I told him there was no need to discuss past events. Then he said, “You must know your weakness: you not only tell the truth, but the naked truth. That is going to harm your career. You must change your attitude….”
“I say what I think is right or wrong. I can’t help it if it hurts people.
“I must accept that I have failed to cultivate the media at the national level. I tried but I lacked the experience, with only a state-level political career of 40 years behind me before I came to the Centre. To cultivate the national media was a new assignment for me. The media was not against me; it was just my misfortune.”
Read the full exchange: If I were a fox in public life…
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News