Hegde became CM, I got saved!

In the 1984 Lok Sabha election held after Indira Gandhi's murder, the Congress got a thumping majority by winning 411 seats. Sympathy factor had worked for the Party in a big way. No Party had won so many seats till then. I had won from Mangaluru- Kodagu. Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister. I was continued in Finance Portfolio with a promotion as Minister of State rank. Ramakrishna Hegde led government was in power in Karnataka then. It had not even completed two years when Hegde decided to dissolve Assembly to seek fresh mandate after his party's drubbing in the Lok Sabha election.

Congress had won 27 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka. Everybody had thought that Congress will also win the Assembly elections. The State went for polls in February. I was in Delhi when results were being announced. Rajiv Gandhi's Political Secretary M L Fotedar called me. " Poojary ji, you have to take oath as Chief Minister of Karnataka. I have kept the flight ready. Be ready," he said. Complete result was not yet announced. "I don't want CM's post. I don't want to go to Karnataka. I am comfortable in Delhi," I said. "No he (Rajiv Gandhi) has decided that you should go. We will take care of the rest. You should become the CM. Don't waste time," Fotedar said firmly. "Not possible," I said. 'You are not following the Prime Minister's order" he warned. "Let us see," I said and came out. By the evening, results came. Congress had lost the election. Hegde became CM again. I was saved.

We should appreciate Ramakrishna Hegde's political acumen and calculations. Nobody would have dared to dissolve the Assembly and face elections when there was Congress wave across the country. But Hegde took the risk and his gamble paid off. His Government was in power till 1989.

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