Personal Egos, Old Rivalries Between Siddaramaiah and Gowdas Cast Shadow Over JDS-Cong Alliance
Siddaramaiah is reportedly still angry with Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy for defeating him in Chamundeshwari in the last assembly elections.
Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah (left) and chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.
Bengaluru: In 2005, Siddaramaiah quit the JDS after a major public showdown with party supremo HD Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy, vowing to decimate the JDS, which he dubbed a “father-son” party. Siddaramaiah then joined the Congress, defeated the JDS and even became the Chief Minister for full five years later.
In a twist of fate, both Siddaramaiah and the Gowdas are reluctantly running the coalition government in Karnataka. Though in power, the animosity between the two sides has not dwindled and is now threatening to derail the alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
In Mandya, the Gowda fiefdom, chief minister Kumaraswamy has fielded his actor son Nikhil Kumar on the JDS ticket, inviting revolt from the Congress that has made the JDS camp nervous.
Siddaramaiah who wields significant clout in the Congress does not seem to be willing to help the third-generation Gowda enter Parliament easily. A worried mother Anitha Kumaraswamy, who is also a JDS MLA, rushed to his house on Saturday night seeking his support for her son.
Even though Siddaramaiah told the media that he was backing Kumaraswamy’s son to uphold the coalition “dharma”, he refused to be in Mandya for Nikhil’s nomination on Monday.
According to his close aides, Siddaramaiah is still angry with Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy for defeating him in Chamundeshwari in the last assembly elections. Siddaramaiah had contested from two seats — Chamundeshwari and Badami. He won from Badami by a small margin, thus saving his face.
“He is not at all comfortable with Gowda and Kumaraswamy. Only because Rahul Gandhi wants him to be quiet, he is doing so. They defeated him. How can he help them now?” ask his supporters.
Adding insult to Kumaraswamy’s injury, Siddaramaiah is actively helping his elder brother and PWD minister HD Revanna’s son Prajwal in the Hassan Lok Sabha seat. Siddaramaiah and Revanna have always shared a good personal rapport, much to the chagrin of Kumaraswamy.
Siddaramaiah has also taken some sort of revenge on the Gowdas by refusing to cede Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha seat to the JDS. Since the party almost decimated Congress in Siddaramaiah’s hometown in the 2018 assembly elections, the JDS wanted that seat and Gowda himself was the candidate. Snubbing the Gowdas, Siddaramaiah has fielded a BJP turncoat, CH Vijayashankar, on Congress ticket from there. The “seat-less” former PM is now contesting from Tumkur — a difficult seat.
According to JDS sources, the Gowda family is upset with Siddaramaiah for not showing much interest in resolving several issues between the partners.
Siddaramaiah is also the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader and commands the loyalty and respect of majority MLAs. The MLAs who are miffed with Kumaraswamy take their grievances to Siddaramaiah, which the JDS family views as a brazen interference in the government.
Many in both the Congress and the JDS admit in private that old egos and old rivalries are affecting the coalition, giving an edge to opposition BJP in the state. Speaking to News18, Siddaramaiah dismissed the reports, maintaining that all was well. “Our aim is to defeat Modi at any cost. It is true that our local workers are not happy with the alliance. But, we have to follow coalition dharma. We will keep our egos aside for that,” he said.
If the JDS and Congress pull off a miracle in the Lok Sabha elections, the shaky alliance may survive. Otherwise it faces a tough task ahead after May 23.
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