HDK: Gone in 14 months

HDK: Gone in 14 months

H D Kumaraswamy. (DH Photo)

After unexpectedly taking over as the chief minister of Karnataka on May 23 last year, H D Kumaraswamy was often heard saying, “I’m a creature of the situation...I don’t know how long my government will last.”

Well, it has lasted exactly 14 months before the Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress government lost a floor test in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for him, he also led an “unnatural creature” with 37 MLAs on his side and 78 MLAs from the Congress. After fighting a bitterly-fought election, they had come together as the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi wanted to keep the BJP out of power and set the stage for a grand anti-BJP alliance before the Lok Sabha elections.

In the hindsight of his earlier experience of giving a fairly successful coalition government in association with the BJP, Kumaraswamy was keen on giving a good administration and earn a name for himself.

The power-sharing formula between the two parties being worked out smoothly – at least initially – Kumaraswamy appeared to be on the right track, with full backing from Rahul Gandhi.

But, the biggest the mistake the two parties did was not to work out a common minimum programme, involving top leaders of both the parties. Given the farm distress, Kumaraswamy embarked on a loan waiver scheme, which increased from Rs 12,000 crore initially to Rs 43, 000 crore – which proved to be his undoing. 

It cast such a huge burden on the exchequer and proved to be so difficult to implement, given the complications of the farmers taking multiple loans from multiple banks, that the scheme turned out to be an albatross around his neck.

Finally, by the time of Lok Sabha elections in May 2019, the government had been able to clear farm loans of only around Rs 18,000 crore, leaving large sections of voters dissatisfied.

Additionally, Kumaraswamy had to face constant sniping from the supporters of Siddaramaiah, who being left out of the loaves of office began to exert pressure for ministerial berths.

If the Congress legislators were repeatedly attacking from outside, Kumaraswamy’s own brother H D Revanna, the PWD Minister, proved to be a thorn in the flesh by meddling with several other ministries.

Kumaraswamy tried to take up many mega projects for Bengaluru city like the suburban railway, the outer ring round and the steel bridge. But, there was a lot of 
public outrage as the intent seemed to be more on benefiting the contractors than the public.

All in all, Kumaraswamy’s 14-month rule will be remembered more for lost opportunities than any great vision he displayed.

(Ramakrishna Upadhya is a senior journalist based out of Bengaluru)