Bengaluru, May 23: Luck favours H.D. Kumaraswamy, who has again been crowned king by his archrival Congress now, like the BJP over 12 years ago, when his Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) did not get the people’s mandate to make him the Karnataka’s Chief Minister.
The third son of former Prime Minister and JD-S patriarch H.D Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy, 59, became Chief Minister on Wednesday after the Congress, defeated in the May 12 Assembly polls, offered the coveted post that has eluded him on his own steam.
With his JD-S just winning 37 seats – a distant third behind the Congress (78) and BJP (104), he could not have imagined he would be heading a coalition government in the state again.
Even before all the results were out on May 15, Congress leaders rushed to Raj Bhavan to inform Governor Vajubhai Vala of their unconditional support to the JD-S, with Kumaraswamy as head of the coalition government, in a desperate move to keep out of power the BJP, which emerged the single largest party but fell seven short of a simple majority.
When Vala on May 16 invited BJP’s legislative party leader B.S. Yeddyurappa to form the government, ignoring the JD-S and Congress combine claim of having more that a majority, Kumaraswamy cried foul and moved the Supreme Court to stall the latter’s swearing-in ceremony on May 17.
Although the post-poll alliance partners could not prevent Yeddyurappa from taking oath as Chief Minister, they prevailed upon the apex court to advance the floor test in the hung House to May 19 from 15 days Vala gave.
Unable to cobble a majority, Yeddyurappa resigned even before the trust vote, paving the way for Kumaraswamy to stake claim to power.
Hailing from the politically dominant Vokkaliga community, which has a stronghold in the Mysuru region, Kumaraswamy, born in 1959 in Hassan district, entered politics in 1996, winning the Kanakapura Lok Sabha constituency and came into the limelight when his father became Prime Minister of the United Front government in June.
Though Kumaraswamy lost in the 1998 and 1999 mid-term parliamentary elections and the 1999 Assembly poll from Sathanur segment, he soon emerged from the shadow of his father to become a leader in his own right, heading the state JD-S unit.
Kumaraswamy becomes Chief Minister for the first time in February 2006 when the JD-S tied up with the BJP and formed the second coalition government after revolting against his father and withdrawing support to the Congress-JD-S first coalition government in the state.
In the 2004 assembly election, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 79 seats in the 225-member assembly, Congress second with 65 seats and JD-S third with 58 seats.
A “secular” Gowda, however, went with the Congress to form a coalition government, instead of allowing the BJP come to power. Though Kumaraswamy ruled the state for 20 months as part of the power-sharing deal with the BJP, the JD-S did not allow the BJP to rule the next 20 months, withdrawing support to it in October 2007.
Popularly known as “Kumaranna” (elder brother) by his party cadres and supporters, Kumaraswamy is a multi-faced politician with interests in Kannada pictures as a producer, distributor, and exhibitor in the state’s ‘sandalwood’ film industry.
He also introduced his son Nikhil into films.
While he was elected to the Assembly from Ramanagaram near Bengaluru for the fourth consecutive term since 2004, in this election he also contested from the adjacent Channapatna constituency and won both even without campaigning for a day. He has decided to retain the Channapatna seat this time.