Congress emerged as single largest party in 1996 Lok Sabha elections but did not have numbers to form the Government. Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao was also the Congress Party President and I was AICC General Secretary. United Front leaders wanted to form the Government with the support of Congress in order to keep BJP out of power. Congress had not taken any decision in this regard yet.
H D Devegowda was Chief Minister of Karnataka then and his party Janata Dal had won highest number of seats in the United Front. So Gowda was elected as the leader of United Front. One evening, Gowda alongwith C M Ibrahim came to my residence seeking Congress' support.
"Poojari ji, I am a farmer's son of Karnataka. An opportunity has come to me to become Prime Minister. Now it is in your hands to make this opportunity into reality," Gowda said.
"Ok. I will see to it that you become Prime Minister. But I have a small condition," I said.
'What is that?' Gowda asked
"You will become Prime Minister. No doubt about that. But you should come to Kudroli Gokarnatha Temple at Mangaluru within one month after you become PM. You should not go to any other temple and visit Gokarnatha temple," I said.
He readily agreed. He was very happy. "I will definitely come, SIR (Gurugale,)" he said holding both my hands. Perhaps he used to call everyone 'Guru'. "I will bring him to Kudroli temple. It is my responsibility," Ibrahim said.
"You should come immediately after becoming PM. Otherwise.." Ibrahim cut my sentence and said: "we will not allow such situation to arise".
Gowda became Prime Minister with the help of Congress. He toured the entire country. He visited Dakshina Kannada district in March 1997, almost a year after he became Prime Minister. He had visited Belthangady to attend a programme organized by Vasant Bangera. He did not visit Kudroli Gokarnanatha Temple as promised earlier.
The news reached me. I was very angry. I met Ibrahim in the Parliament Central Hall. "You had promised to come to Kudroli immediately after taking oath. You failed to keep your word. Now you came to my district and visited Belthangady. I will have gowda dethroned within a month." I blurted in anger.
"Sir, please don't talk like that. People say whatever you say will come true," Ibrahim pleaded. I said that I have already spoken.
Within a month, AICC president Seetaram Kesari withdrew the support to the Devegowda Government and Devegowda lost power.
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