As the man in-charge of Kerala’s BJP unit, Gowda used to play a crucial role in designing political strategies for the party to strengthen its foothold in that state.
Now, there seems to be hardly anybody in Kerala’s BJP unit to take care of its affairs. As a result, the unit has started disintegrating. Many of its workers are being drawn into the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).
Fluent in Malayalam, Gowda used to impress voters in Kasargod, Kannur, and Kochi. Earlier, Ganesh from Coimbatore, Ram Lal from Delhi and Muralidhar Rao from Andhra Pradesh had led the Kerala BJP unit. But none of them were able to put together the party workers due to their inability to speak with them in Malayalam.
This resulted in local leaders becoming the national face of the party in Kerala. The party therefore remained an underdog in a state dominated by two big alliances - the UDF and the Left Democratic Front.
Gowda would make long speeches in Malayalam in south Kerala while in north Kerala’s Kannada-dominated Kasargod, Kanhangad, Hosadurga, Trikaripura, Udma and Manjeshwaram, he was already a mass leader.
Suresh Kumar Shetty, president of BJP’s Kasargod district unit, agreed that Gowda’s charm worked well for the party in north Kerala region. “Kerala BJP workers and Kannada- and Malayalam-speaking voters have accepted him as Kerala’s own national leader,” he said.
Monappa Bhandary, member of the state legislative council, said: “After the party came to power in Karnataka as the first BJP government in the south, for all party matters, the party’s Kerala unit looked up to Bangalore and sought assistance and support for developing the party cadres. Sadananda Gowda played a big role in developing the party there.”
Kerala may be ‘God’s own country’ but it is also the ‘Land of perpetual politics.’ Journalists, who have covered many elections in Kerala, felt that the UDF and LDF always kept their flock together. Their leaders such as like VS Achutanandan, AK Antony, Ommen Chandy and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan put their alliances before their personal leadership, a quality none of the Karnataka politicians except Gowda had mastered, BJP workers of Kerala said.