Mangaluru, Nov 10, 2014: Complaints of inefficiency, failure to get a “grip” over the ministry and row over the increase of personal assets have cost D V Sadananda Gowda the high-profile Railway portfolio.
There were murmurs in the national capital’s political circle over the past month that Gowda might be shunted out, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “unhappy” with his performance. They came true after he was shifted to the less visible Law Ministry, which was being looked after as additional charge by Ravi Shankar Prasad.
There were reports that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had recently asked top Rail Bhavan officials not to entertain some businessmen from Mangaluru and Bengaluru who have been loitering in Rail Bhavan since Gowda became railway minister.
However, another minister from Karnataka — G M Siddeshwara — was appointed Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. The Davangere MP, who was Minister of State for Civil Aviation earlier, had pleaded with the BJP central leadership to give him a better portfolio.
Unhappy with Gowda
Though the dizzying rise of Sadananda Gowda — from starting his carrier as an advocate in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka to holding a coveted portfolio in the Modi Cabinet — surprised many, the prime minister had picked him for the job with high hopes that he could deliver better, as the government’s new thrust would be to vitalise the infrastructure sector, including high-speed rail and bullet trains.
However, government sources said the PMO was of the opinion that even after five months of appointment as railway minister, the former Karnataka chief minister failed to get a grip of the ministry.
The PMO is learnt to have recently pulled Gowda up after the Railways’ failure to handle the huge rush of passengers during Deepavali, and particularly travellers going to Bihar for Chhath pooja last month, which led to the death of a passenger at the Anand Vihar railway station at the national capital.
The increase of his personal assets also reportedly upset both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Despite Gowda putting up a strong defence, that it was due to purchase of a property after taking loans from a private bank, it is learnt that his bosses were not convinced with the explanation.
Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office was also of the impression that Gowda was unable to give more time to the railway ministry, particularly after his son became embroiled in a controversy when a Kannada starlet levelled allegations of rape and cheating against him.
Gowda has encountered some row or the other since his appointment as the railway minister. The National Democratic Alliance government had to face embarrassment when he did not attend a debate on the Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the last budget session.
Even the Rajya Sabha was briefly adjourned due to the railway minister’s absence, and members demanded action against him for ignoring House duty.