From being twice CM to now union minister, Kumaraswamy demonstrates political acumen again

07:54 PM Jun 09, 2024 | PTI |

Bengaluru: Two-time chief minister and five-time MLA JD leader H D Kumaraswamy has once again demonstrated his political acumen by bagging a seat in the union council of ministers, despite his party joining the BJP-led NDA just last year.


Since the time of its founding in 1999, the JD has never formed a government on its own in Karnataka, but has been in power twice in coalition with both national parties despite being a junior partner for 20 months with the BJP from February 2006 and for 14 months with the Congress after the May 2018 assembly polls.

Kumaraswamy was chief minister on both occasions. The son of JD patriarch and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda has now managed to secure a cabinet berth by allying with the BJP, at a time when his party was fighting the “battle for survival”.

The 64-year-old Vokkaliga leader has made no secret of his desire to become agriculture minister. By winning the Mandya Lok Sabha seat, the former CM has not only managed to regain the JD’s lost bastion, but also demonstrated that the party is still a force to be reckoned with in Karnataka, by allying with the BJP. Kumaraswamy defeated Venkataramane Gowda of the Congress by a margin of 2,84,620 votes.

Kumaraswamy, who is also the state JD president, is a five time MLA, and until recently represented the Channapatna assembly seat.


It is said that Kumaraswamy hoped that the 2023 assembly polls would yield a hung verdict and that he would emerge as kingmaker or a ‘king’ himself for the third time, but his dreams were dashed with his party’s dismal performance and Congress’s emphatic victory.

With the compulsions of keeping his party afloat and to remain politically relevant in the state, Kumaraswamy had again joined hands with the BJP to forge an alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP leadership persuaded Kumaraswamy to contest from one of the three seats ceded to it, hoping that it will give momentum to his party’s prospects in the other two seats and help the saffron outfit, especially in the old Mysuru region, where it is considered to be relatively weak. The plan seemed to have worked as JD won two out of the three seats it contested, and BJP in 17 out of 25 in the state, which has a total of 28 constituencies.

Seen as an “accidental politician”, Kumaraswamy’s first love was films. A fan of Kannada thespian Dr Rajkumar, Kumaraswamy was attracted to cinema since his college days. He took up filmmaking and distribution, and produced several successful Kannada films, including ‘Jaguar’, starring his son Nikhil.

Earlier, in the run up to 2018 assembly polls, Kumaraswamy had said, “I will be the king and not the kingmaker,” and his words turned prophetic as the Vokkaliga leader occupied the chief minister’s post for the second time, despite his JD finishing a poor third in the polls. It was a coalition government with the Congress. But his tenure was short-lived as the wobbly coalition government that he headed collapsed after 13 months in power.

Kumaraswamy had earlier served as the CM for 20 months from 2006 as the head of a JD-BJP government.

Kumaraswamy, who grew up in a political environment, forayed into electoral politics by successfully contesting the Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat in 1996. He subsequently lost both the Parliamentary and assembly elections. He was elected to the assembly for the first time in 2004, when the JD joined the coalition government led by Congress’s Dharam Singh after the polls threw up a hung house.

In 2006, he rebelled and walked out of the coalition with 42 MLAs, reportedly against the wish of his father, citing a threat to the party, and formed the government with the BJP, becoming the chief minister during his very first term as MLA. Under a rotational chief ministership arrangement, he helmed the state for 20 months.

When the BJP’s turn for chief ministership came, he reneged on the promise to transfer power, and brought down the Yediyurappa government within seven days. In the 2008 assembly poll, BJP came to power.

In 2009 Kumaraswamy successfully contested the Lok Sabha polls from Bengaluru Rural. Kumaraswamy’s pro farmer and rural friendly programmes like farm loan waiver and outreach to rural folk with ‘gram vastavya’ project under which he stayed in villages to understand their problems earned him popularity during his stint as CM. A science graduate, Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha is a former MLA.


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