regular-article-logo Thursday, 21 September 2023

H.D. Kumaraswamy: Why kingmaker, not king?

'Kumaraswamy is only chief minister who waived farm loans to considerable extent,' says Deve Gowda

K.M. Rakesh Ramanagara (Karnataka) Published 04.05.23, 05:22 AM
HD Kumaraswamy campaigns for his son Nikhil in Karnataka’s Ramanagara Assembly constituency

HD Kumaraswamy campaigns for his son Nikhil in Karnataka’s Ramanagara Assembly constituency Picture by KM Rakesh

Much of the political slugfest in Karnataka may be between the ruling BJP and principal challenger Congress, but H.D. Kumaraswamy doesn’t have an iota of doubt about the importance of his party, the Janata Dal Secular, and the role it would play as the sole regional outfit seeking a mandate.

But what he doesn’t like is being described as a kingmaker since the former chief minister is aiming at a clear majority, however far-fetched the idea may seem in terms of the JDS’s political reach in Karnataka that is set to elect a new government on May 10.


“Both parties have been describing us as a kingmaker. But the people on the ground are unhappy with both the BJP and the Congress. My own efforts over the last six months have been to get a clear mandate,” Kumaraswamy told The Telegraph, taking time off his hectic campaign schedule in Ramanagara in Old Mysore that is the only sector where the JDS has got the better of its two bigger rivals.

His father and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda had told reporters in Surathkal, Mangalore, on Monday that Kumaraswamy would be the next chief minister. “I am not exaggerating. Kumaraswamy is the only chief minister who waived farm loans to a considerable extent,” Deve Gowda said.

On what he would do in case of a hung Assembly and the BJP on top of the heap, Kumaraswamy paused a bit before saying: “Let us see where all this leads us to since the state is more important for me.”

“Some say it would be a repeat of 2004. But our fight is for now,” he said, reminiscing the developments that led the JDS to form a coalition with the Congress under Dharam Singh after the election threw up a hung Assembly.

Back then, Kumaraswamy had walked away from the coalition and clinched a deal with the BJP to become chief minister in a power-sharing agreement to equally split the remaining 40 months in office. After assuming power as chief minister in February 2006, Kumaraswamy resigned in October 2007 without fulfilling his part of the deal to allow B.S. Yediyurappa to helm the government.

That one alignment with the BJP, against the wishes of his father, has been a blotch on his secular credentials. But Kumaraswamy has no regret since he feels that “the BJP that we partnered with in 2006 is way different from what it is today”.

Kumaraswamy has no doubt that the Muslims who form about 13 per cent of the 5.2 crore voters would back the JDS, whose only area of dominance has been Old Mysore that comprises eight districts including Mandya, Mysore, Chamrajnagara, Kodagu and Hassan. The region gave the JDS 27 seats in the 2018 Assembly polls, leaving the Congress with 17 and the BJP with just 11, besides two Independents.

Follow us on: