Karnataka Chief Minister and JD(S) chief H D Kumaraswamy has announced the revival of a village stay programme he conducted as CM in 2006-07 as part of efforts to revive the fortunes of his party in Karnataka. The move comes in wake of the heavy defeat suffered by the JD(S) in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the consistent loss of political ground in north Karnataka since 2008.
“To mingle with people, to understand their problems and to assess functioning of the government, village stays are important. I will soon start village stays at local government schools,” Kumaraswamy said.
After meetings with senior government officials, including financial advisors and secretaries, Kumaraswamy on Monday said that this visit will begin from Gurmitkal in Yadgir region of north Karnataka on June 21.
As part of the plans, the Chief Minister will stay in local government schools overnight and dedicate an entire day to meeting local people and addressing their problems. The programme will be held for two days every month, the Chief Minister’s office has announced.
Decade ago, drive boosted popularity
In his first tenure as CM in a coalition with the BJP in 2006-07, Kumaraswamy had stayed at the homes of villagers to improve his image. The programme contributed to a rise in his popularity in the northern parts of the state where the Lingayats, the majority community, tend to lean heavily in favour of the BJP. However, after the JD(S) failed to adhere to a 20-20 power-sharing agreement with the BJP in 2007, Kumaraswamy and JD(S) lost goodwill in north Karnataka.
Unlike in 2006-07, Kumaraswamy is now scheduled to stay at schools to prevent inconveniencing locals and attracting criticism of the home stay being a pure “gimmick”.
BJP leaders like former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa have also stayed and eaten at homes of Dalits but reports later revealed that the hosts were forced to create modern toilet facilities or serve food sourced from hotels for VIP guests.
Senior BJP leader and Union minister for Chemicals and fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda has called it a “gimmick”.
“Earlier also he used to stay at villages but none of the villages later received government attention. Now, to save his shaky government he wants to shift the focus with village stays,” Gowda said.