Siddaramaiah offering HD Kumaraswami chief ministership to form government in Karnataka has a tragic twist to it. Siddaramaiah, the Congress CM, was a senior minister in JD(S). In 2005 he left JD(S) feeling marginalized by HD Deve Gowda’s attempts to promote his son Kumaraswami as his political heir and the top leader of the party.
After leaving JD(S), Siddaramaiah joined Congress. In later years, both Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswami rose to the pinnacle of Karnataka state politics. Kumaraswami became CM in 2006 when JD(S) formed government with BJP. Siddaramaiah became CM in 2013 when he helped Congress win in Karnataka. But their rivalry continued. They kept exchanging barbs through media.
Couple of years ago, the rivalry boiled over when at the State Assembly Kumaraswami swore on his father that he would not let Siddaramaiah become CM and Siddaramaiah retorted that he swore on Kumaraswami’s father (HD Deve Gowda) that he would become CM. Karnataka politics is acrimonious and filthy. But as fate would have it, a few years later and a few days ago, driven by compulsions of politics, in the wake of unexpected dip in Congress’ number of seats, Siddaramaiah not only offered support to JD(S) to form government in Karnatka but also offered Kumaraswami the position of CM.
That’s not where the tragedy ends, though.
Of the three chief ministerial aspirants – HD Kumaraswami, Siddaramaiah and B. S. Yeddyurappa (BJP) – Siddaramaiah was the most deserving candidate. He has run a clean administration for five years which performed reasonably well and wasn’t disrupted by internal feuds and challenges to his leadership. None of these can be said about the other two chief ministerial aspirants (one of whom – Kumaraswami – is a chief minister now).
But will this coming together of the Cong and JD(S) for purely political reasons mark a complete transformation of Siddaramaiah’s and Kumaraswami’s relationship? Or will the old bitterness rear its head again once the euphoria is over? Both are mercurial and ambitious. And at least Kumaraswami has the record of being ungentlemanly when it comes to temptations of power.
In 2006, JD(S) had formed government with BJP with Kumaraswami as chief minister on the understanding that after 10 months Kumaraswami would step down from the position of CM making way for Yeddyurappa, but he refused to, prompting BJP to withdraw support to the government and call for new elections which BJP won riding a pro- Yeddyurappa sympathy wave.