HD Kumaraswamy: Chief Minister by default

HD Kumaraswamy: Chief Minister by default

Haradanahalli Deve Gowda Kumaraswamy, 58, is going to be the chief minister of Karnataka, by default. The JD (S) leader's innings in collusion with the Congress party would begin from May 23. He would be joining the list of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who somehow managed to occupy the coveted post. Of course, calibre-wise they are not on a same footing.
The argument put forth by the JD (S) and followers of Kumaraswamy is that he was a "people's CM" during his previous 20 months' tenure as CM, and that he should get an opportunity to be chief minister again. He is also claiming that he is enjoying the blessings of 6.5 crore people of Karnataka to serve them.
He says he fails to understand why people have not supported him this time too. No doubt he is a crowd-puller. His heart could be in the right place too. The state has also often seen his melodrama.
But the people of Karnataka have not liked his party and hence they pushed it to the third slot. If one goes by the argument that an efficient person should be the chief minister, then why not a CEO of any private company which generates employment in lakhs and put India on a global map through its performance? There could be many efficient, able and well-intentioned persons who dream big for Karnataka. So why not give them a chance by nominating them to the legislature? It sounds impractical, isn't it?
In democracy, ultimately it is people's power which should set terms. Sadly, that is not happening because the people have delivered a fractured mandate. Now, people have no choice but to see and accept all the opportunistic decisions taken by politicians. The Congress' senior leaders are claiming that democracy has won by packing off the BJP. What is being seen are political tactics and not the victory of democracy.





If Kumaraswamy and JD (S) patriarch Deve Gowda are as popular as they project themselves, then why the party's vote bank has shrunk? Why did it get 37 seats? In the North-Karnataka region, the vote share is just 9.64% and the seats secured is 6. Forget the coastal districts, the party has not got even one seat in Chikmagalur, Chitradurga and Davangere districts where earlier it had presence.

It has barely managed to win two seats each in Kolar and Chikkaballapur. The party, which took former chief minister Siddaramaiah head on in the Old Mysuru region, could outsmart other parties. But for this, the party has nothing to cheer or even discuss.
According to former JD (S) MLA YSV Datta, who shares a good rapport with Deve Gowda, it is the Congress which has forced the JD (S) to enter into the alliance. "Deve Gowda was not interested in the pact due to various reasons. It is a desperate move by the Congress and not the JD(S). Gowda explained the constraints including mental stress that he and his son would have to undergo if the alliance has to work. But finally he yielded," he said.
If the JD (S) was so reluctant then why the Congress is not going to lead the coalition? Datta says, "Even the Congress is facing internal problems and knows well it is not easy to manage. The JD(S) is not at fault."
The Congress and the JD (S) have come to conclusion that it is impossible to take on the BJP on their individual strength. The bonhomie between the two parties will be seen in the soon-to-be-held elections to Jayanagar, RR Nagar and Ramanagara. Will they have a common candidate or one of them develop 'withdrawal symptom' to fight the polls?
On May 20, when asked by the media whether his party and the Congress would face the elections united, Kumaraswamy said the parties would fight the polls on their own. However, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has said the two parties would together face the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In the next one year, many changes are bound to happen. But for the sake of the LS polls, the two parties in all probabilities would continue their cordial relations. For the Congress, winning as many seats as possible across the country is important.
Even Deve Gowda would like to shift from Padmanabhanagar to Rashtrapati Bhavan if an opportunity knocks on his door again. This can happen provided he goes back on his words of not contesting again.
The Congress has already shown that it can bend the way Gowda wants. Hence, it is not difficult to turn deaf, mute and blind for the Congress at least till the elections are completed. If the Congress is not benefited by the alliance in Karnataka, what it would do?
Will it continue to nurture the Gowda clan for the next 5 years at the cost of several leaders and workers? In that case, what future will the Congress have in the state? Going by the turn of events, it is better to take one day at a time instead of guesstimating the life of the present government.
The Congress, which has already surrendered the CM post, has nothing much else to lose for now. It may not insist on the post of deputy CM/s or even any particular portfolio because it is well aware that it has to keep the show going on. If the Gowdas are generous, then the Congress can get some key portfolios. The Veerashaiva Mahasabha has sought deputy CM post to Shamnoor Shivashankarappa.
It would be interesting to see how Congress senior leaders such as G Parameshwara, R V Deshpande, D K Shivakumar, Ramesh Kumar, Ramalinga Reddy among others would remain subservient to the chief minister. It is practically not possible for the coordination committee to look into likes, dislikes and demands of each of the seniors in the state cabinet.
Arm-twisting
Journalists who used to cover the secretariat beat have not forgotten how the JD(S)-BJP coalition had fought over the NICE road project.
Kumaraswamy as chief minister wanted to cancel the Nice project. He was particular that the government should take over it. The subject was listed for a cabinet meeting. Minutes before the meeting began, the ministers from the BJP strongly protested the move. They refused to attend the cabinet meeting till the subject was deleted from the agenda. Kumaraswamy had yielded to the arm-twisting by the BJP.
So differences are bound to crop-up but they can be brushed aside for the sake of the Lok Sabha elections and to politically kill the common enemy – Narendra Modi.
Late Janata Parivar leader MP Prakash used to say for a coalition to sustain, power is the adhesive. But this time much depends on how much the Congress would surrender to the JD(S) patriarch. Till the give and take is over between the national and the regional party, the BJP, instead of scouting for devious means to grab power, can relax or improve skill to manage booths in the Shah school of politics.