Boomtown rap

Once a kingmaker, Deve Gowda is struggling to survive in Karnataka

No party has witnessed the exodus of such capable leaders as JD(S) in the last ten years in the state.

 |  Boomtown rap  |  3-minute read |   16-06-2016
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Rarely does former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda agree to be interviewed by a rookie journalist, and that too, on TV live!

But on June 13, Gowda, once-upon-a-time kingmaker of Karnataka politics, broke convention and appeared on a leading Kannada TV news channel to be hounded with questions from a journalist, who wanted to treat the Janata Dal (Secular) supreme leader as any other politician.

Gowda, for a change, was not only patient, but answered every question in detail. This doesn't mean that Gowda has changed, but a lot is changing within the party that he founded with such passion, and the 83-year-old grand old man of Karnataka politics is trying hard to retain the edge.

Also read - Why Karnataka Congress government is at Yeddyurappa's mercy

In the process, it does not matter to him anymore whether he's breaking convention. At a time when regional parties like the AIADMK and the TMC are growing in popularity and retaining power, Karnataka's lone regional outfit is struggling for survival in the wake of rebellion and internal bickering.

While all eyes in Karnataka were on the poor performance of the Congress government, which completed three years in office, the rebellion, which was brewing in the JD(S), came to the fore last week with its candidate suffering a humiliating loss in the Rajya Sabha polls.

This kind of rebellion was not seen in the JD(S) in the last five years, as eight legislators defied the party whip and voted for the Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.

deve-gowda_061516115450.jpg HD Deve Gowda.

The leaders, who defied the whip, were not political novices. They included former minister and former MP N Cheluvarayaswamy, former minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, and MLA HC Balakrishna, all of whom were crucial for the growth of Gowda's son and former CM HD Kumaraswamy as a successful politician.

The eight legislators have been suspended from the party for anti-party activities after the Congress' candidate comfortably won the Rajya Sabha election with their support.

Each of the eight legislators has his own clout and power. There is no doubt that all these legislators are set to quit the JD(S), which suddenly appears leaderless with only Gowda and his clan at the helm.

From 40-member strength in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the JD(S) is suddenly reduced to 32 with the character of a lesser-known regional party.

Also read - Why Siddaramaiah is the Rahul Gandhi of Karnataka

The bad time for the JD(S) has begun with the party not able to boast of any leader with mass following barring a handful. So, what led to the deterioration within the party?

The answer from the rebels is the same old - JD(S) is being ruled by a fiefdom by Gowda. No party has witnessed the exodus of such capable leaders as in the JD(S) in the last ten years.

But Gowda ignoring these facts chose to blame Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for the state of affairs in the JD(S). "I challenge Digvijaya Singh to decimate my party… He will not be successful," Gowda thundered on the TV indicating that all the eight legislators were "bought" by the Congress for the Rajya Sabha polls.

Gowda is once again fighting the battle single-handedly. There are speculations that the JD(S) with an eroded voter base may contest from just 90 Assembly segments in the next elections due in 2017 and expect victory from 60 constituencies and try to play a kingmaker again.

It is clear that the JD(S) is on the downslide and it is not good for Karnataka, which now cannot boast of any strong regional outfit as an alternative to either the Congress or the BJP. Will the JD(S) survive the crisis for the next two years?

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)


Aravind Gowda Aravind Gowda @aravindshiv

The writer is a publicist, film scribe and political journalist.

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