Former Prime Minister of India
Deve Gowda, H. D. (Haradanahalli Dodde Gowda Deve Gowda), 1933–, Indian political leader, prime minister of India (1996–97), b. Haradanahalli, Karnataka, S India. A member of a farming family of intermediate caste, he was trained as a civil engineer and won his first seat in the Karnataka state assembly in 1962, rising to become Karnataka's chief minister. At first an independent, then a member of the Congress party (see Indian National Congress), he joined the wing that was opposed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's faction when the group split (1969). In 1975 he was jailed for 18 months when he opposed Gandhi's state of emergency.
In the late 1970s Deve Gowda rose in the Janata party and was an important figure in reuniting its successor, the Janata Dal party, after the original group splintered in 1980. Widely regarded as a relatively unsophisticated man but a canny political pragmatist, Deve Gowda was an effective leader and was key in attracting to the party divergent castes and religious groups. When the Congress party was savaged in the 1996 general elections and Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao resigned, Deve Gowda became prime minister of a United Front coalition government after Indian nationalists failed to form a government. It was his first national office.