HD Deve Gowda says he is ready to pass JD(S) baton to HD Kumaraswamy after Sankranti | Bengaluru News – Times of India
Deteriorating health and rapidly altering political landscape in Karnataka have compelled the 87-year-old to think of a generational shift in leadership. Gowda on Saturday dropped enough hints that Kumaraswamy would hold the reins of the party after Sankranti (January 14).
For more than two decades, Gowda’s grip on the party’s functioning was vice-like but the old political warhorse appears to have sensed the need for a change, given the growing support among Vokkaliga voters for the BJP and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar looking to emerge as the next Vokkaliga strongman. Moreover, anointing Kumaraswamy as the heir-apparent would ensure his supremacy within the party.
Unshackled by the party patriarch, Kumaraswamy would be free to reach out to the BJP well ahead of the next assembly elections. The former CM has repeatedly pointed out that he would have continued in the position had he allied with the saffron party instead of joining hands with the Congress, a decision motivated by Gowda’s image as a staunch secularist.
“PM Narendra Modi has personally extended the hand of friendship,” Kumaraswamy had claimed. More recently, Kumaraswamy’s support to the BJP to ensure the passage of the farm bills in the state assembly and the role of JD(S) legislators when the saffron party moved the no-confidence motion against chairman Prathap Chandra Shetty raised eyebrows in political circles.
There have also been rumours of a growing rift between Gowda and Kumaraswamy, prompting grumblings within the JD(S) about the leadership. Many voices in the party are reported to have called for Kumaraswamy to assume a larger role.
Although Kumaraswamy’s decision to ally with the BJP in 2006, which resulted in the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, was publicly condemned by Gowda, the reins of the party remained firmly in his hands. Nearly a decade-and-a-half later, Gowda, for the first time, is hinting at receding to the background and allowing Kumaraswamy to take over.
Senior leaders in the JD(S) are well aware of the fact that, despite having enjoyed power in Karnataka twice, the BJP’s continued failure to obtain a majority is owing to its poor presence in the Old Mysore region, the bastion of the JD(S). The BJP is not closed to entering into an alliance with the JD(S) ahead of the 2023 elections since such a tie-up would be at the expense of the Congress, which holds considerable sway in the same region.
“Gowda realises that for the BJP, with its well-oiled election machinery and resources, it will only be a matter of time to expand its base in the Old Mysore region. Gowda is choosing this wise move in order to pre-empt such an eventuality,” said a political analyst.