In just one year, AHV goes on to lead JD(S) in state

In just one year, AHV goes on to lead JD(S) in state

Former minister and sitting MLA of Hunsur A H Vishwanath, who was a Congressman for over four and a half decades since the early 1970s, has become the state president of the JD(S), the party he joined only last year.

Selected by then chief minister D Devaraja Urs, Vishwanath was elected as K R Nagar MLA for the first time in 1978 on a Congress ticket. He joined the JD(S) in Bengaluru on July 4, 2017, and is just over a year old in the party.

N R Ravichandregowda, spokesperson of the state JD(S) said that even though Vishwanath is new to the party, he is acceptable to all partymen. “He is capable of leading the party. His vast experience in a national party will help the JD(S). He is an advocate, well-read and is witty. He has the charisma to attract the people, party members and also leaders. Despite his difference of opinion with leaders of some parties, he has a cordial relationship with many leaders of other parties. He is an able successor to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy,” he said.

Ravichandregowda said that he is happy as Vishwanath is the second president of the state unit of the JD(S) from Mysuru district. The first one was former chief minister Siddaramaiah in 2005, almost 13 years before Vishwanath.

Vishwanath has so far contested nine Assembly polls and was elected in four of them. He won in 1978, 1989, and 1999 from K R Nagar Assembly constituency, while he lost in 1983, 1985, 1994, 2004, and 2008. Later, he shifted to Mysuru-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency, which he won in 2009 and lost in 2014. Last year, he joined the JD(S) and contested from Hunsur, bordering his original K R Nagar constituency, in May, this year, and won it against the Congress.

In being elected as a people’s representative, Vishwanath is a term senior to Siddaramaiah. Siddaramaiah was elected to the Assembly in 1983. But, Siddaramaiah has won eight out of 11 elections. Siddaramaiah is elder to Vishwanath by one year, when it comes to age.

While Siddaramaiah was made minister in 1985 itself, Vishwanath had to wait till 1989, when he became Minister for Kannada and Culture. He served as Education Minister for a term again, since 1999.

“Vishwanath was vehemently criticising former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and his sons H D Revanna and H D Kumaraswamy till he was in the Congress. Since he hinted at abandoning the Congress, he started criticising then chief minister Siddaramaiah. He publicly announced that he was leaving the Congress as he was not only neglected in the party, but was insulted by the leaders, including Siddaramaiah. His role in the defeat of Siddaramaiah in Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency cannot be neglected,” points out H C Nagaraju, a JD(S) member.

“In fact, some leaders of the Kuruba community, to which both Vishwanath and Siddaramaiah belong, claim that Vishwanath aided Siddaramaiah’s growth ever since Siddaramaiah’s relationship with the JD(S) high-command strained. By the time, it became clear that Vishwanath would abandon the Congress, the JD(S) high command, which already had a hold over the Vokkaliga voters, welcomed him into the party fold. They wanted to consolidate the voters of the Kuruba community also,” said a source close to Vishwanath.

“People of the Kuruba community united under the leadership of Vishwanath to assert their rights. The community organised to become a deciding factor in elections, under his leadership. But, Siddaramaiah reaped the benefits under changed circumstances. It was Vishwanath’s mistake only, as he glorified Siddaramaiah as a towering leader of the community,” said the source.

“In fact, Sericulture and Tourism Minister Sa Ra Mahesh, who had defeated Vishwanath twice in 2008 and 2013, engineered his entry into the JD(S). Deve Gowda hopes to counter Siddaramaiah, who is now Congress CWC member and also chairman of the JD(S)-Congress coordination committee. It is also a step to foray into the vote share of Other Backward Class communities as Vishwanth is acceptable to people of Uppara, Ganiga, Madiwala and Vishwakarma communities,” said a JD(S) leader.

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