Bengaluru: Keeping with his pre-poll claims that he would be the ‘king’ and not ‘kingmaker’, state chief of Janata Dal (Secular) H D Kumaraswamy has virtually emerged from the fringe to stake claim to become the chief minister of Karnataka again with Congress support.
Like his father and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, who was the chief of the state for 20 months from February 2006, has mastered the art of making the best use of opportunity in one’s favour. Despite his party ending up at a distant third in the assembly elections with 37 seats, Kumaraswamy, popularly known as “Kumaranna”, is back in the reckoning after the Congress announced support to him to lead a coalition government. Seen as a “lone ranger” and an “accidental politician”, his first love was, however, films.
Born in Haradanahalli of Holenarasipura Taluk in Hassan district, Kumaraswamy did his early schooling in Hassan, before shifting to Bengaluru for higher studies. A BSc graduate, for 58-year old Kumaraswamy politics was never his first interest. A fan of Kannada thespian Dr Rajkumar, he was attracted to cinema from his college days and that later drove him to the business of film-making and distribution. He has produced several successful Kannada films, including the recent “Jaguar”, starring his son Nikhil Gowda.
Kumaraswamy, who grew up in a political environment all along, entered electoral politics by contesting for the Lok Sabha from Kanakapura in 1996 and won, but subsequently lost when he contested for Parliament and then to the assembly. He got elected to the assembly in 2004, when JD (S) following the hung verdict supported the Congress’ Dharm Singh-led government. Subsequently in early 2006, citing threat to his party as the reason, about 42 MLAs of JD(S) rebelled and withdrew support to the Singh government, despite opposition from Gowda.
He then formed the government with the support of the BJP, and went on to become the chief minister during his first term as MLA. Kumaraswamy’s growth within the party was swift to an extent that it is said to have caused rift within the family, as his elder brother H D Revanna was till then was considered as heir apparent to Gowda.
Also, then senior party leader Siddaramaiah felt sidelined and started alleged dissident activities because of which he was expelled from the JD(S). Kumaraswamy failing to honour power sharing agreement of 20 months each with the BJP led to the saffron party coming to power in the state for the first time in the south of India in the 2008 assembly election.
The JD(S) has since then been out of power and Kumaraswamy had recently told PTI that this election is “battle of survival” for his party. Kumaraswamy at the same time is also trying to remove the tag of “father son/family” party associated to JD (S), which is a tough task for him as there is growing aspiration within the family to remain in politics, leading to difference within. He has also made attempts to grow the party outside Vokkaliga belt of old Mysuru region.
Though Kumaraswamy during his tenure as chief minister earned good reputation because of his populist measures including “grama vastavya” (CM staying at village and trying to know about the issues there), he also faced allegation in connection with Janthakal Mining scam. Kumaraswamy is married to Anita, who had represented Madhugiri as MLA in the past and also runs businesses.