Dismayed HDK offers to quit party, legislature posts
Dismayed by the rejection of his party by voters in the Lok Sabha by-elections, a teary-eyed H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday offered to resign as State JD(S) president and also as the leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
He owned responsibility for the humiliating defeat of the party in the Mandya and Bangalore Rural seats. It was the second defeat in the last three months for Anitha Kumaraswamy (Bangalore Rural) and C S Puttaraju (Mandya), both of whom had lost the May 5 Assembly elections from Channapatna and Melkote seats.
In the afternoon, Kumaraswamy met the JD(S) president H D Deve Gowda and asked him to relieve him from the post of State president for failing to win the voters’ confidence. He will take a decision on quitting as the leader of JD(S) legislature party after a meeting with legislators.
When contacted, Kumaraswamy told Deccan Herald that his resignation might help in identifying a ‘replacement’ for him in the future. “Any leader can build a party, given the opportunity. My resignation may pave the way for a new leader to build the party. I am ready to work as an ordinary party member. I have undergone a heart operation and I need rest. Probably, people want me to take a break. Somewhere I have failed to understand them,” he said.
Sources in the JD(S) said that the party had previously suggested replacing Kumaraswamy with an OBC leader for getting more votes from the backward community. It is speculated that the prime reason for the party’s defeat, especially in Mandya, was due to the consolidation of the OBC votes in favour of the Congress.
One name making rounds for the post of state president is that of former minister A Krishnappa of Varthur, who quit the Congress to join the JD(S) ahead of the Assembly polls. He unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Hiriyur.
It is unlikely that the JD(S) MLAs may favour the resignation of Kumaraswamy as leader of the legislature party. For, the party has no alternative leader who can get along well and carry everyone together in the party.
On whether the alliance with BJP spelled the doom for JD(S) in the byelections, Kumaraswamy said the BJP cannot be held responsible for their loss.
“Except for the Congress leaders’ accusations and the media coverage, the voters never knew (of the alliance). BJP leader R Ashoka may have campaigned for a day. But, there was not enough time to send the message to people. It should also be noted that we did not garner enough votes in the rural belt, where the BJP does not have any hold. There must be something wrong with our own party,” he said.
Desertions in JD(S)?
On Chamarajpet MLA B Z Zameer Ahmad Khan, who is rumoured to have a dozen MLAs with him, likely to jump the ‘sinking ship,’ Kumaraswamy said: “It is normal for people to join or leave political parties. I do not wish to comment on the rumours and, also I don’t know where Zameer is (during campaign or after polling).” It is speculated that the JD(S) may witness some desertions due to the defeat in the byelections.
Dismissing the reports that he may be disillusioned by the defeat and look outside politics, Kumaraswamy said: “ I am not a hermit. This loss is nothing new to me, my party or my family. We have lost and won many elections. But, we have treated both equally.”
On the likelihood of continuing the understanding with the BJP for the next elections, he said the Parliamentary elections were more than six months away and there was still time for that.