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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Karnataka’s real showman

Yeddyurappa’s arch-rival,H.D. Kumaraswamy,has been the chief architect of his fall.

Written by Saritha Rai |
July 30, 2011 1:34:45 am

As B.S. Yeddyurappa prepares to exit the Karnataka chief minister’s chair,newspapers are having a field day with headlines like “Yeddy,unsteady,go” But in the noise surrounding the Lokayukta mining probe and Yeddyurappa’s fall,what is forgotten is that the chief minister was not felled by one report. Rather,his defence was slowly but surely chipped away by a series of scathing attacks — led almost single-handedly by none other than his predecessor and one-time political ally H.D. Kumaraswamy. The mining report has singed Kumaraswamy too,but the Janata Dal (Secular) will still be celebrating the end of a successful ouster campaign.

Rabble-rouser,that delightful-sounding,compelling word for a political leader who seeks support by rousing passions and prejudices,is a fitting description for Kumaraswamy,Karnataka’s chief attention-grabber. Kumaraswamy’s family (including his father,former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda) has dominated the state’s politics for nearly three decades now,making headline news whether in power or out.

Now it looks like Kumaraswamy’s long and determined political battle against arch-rival B.S.Yeddyurappa has finally reached a climax. After the two flung accusations and counter-accusations of corruption against each other,a lot of the muck stuck to the outgoing chief minister. The BJP in Delhi was left with little choice but to show Yeddyurappa the door.

Earlier this month,the diabetic Kumaraswamy,who has also gone through heart surgery,pulled off yet another stunt for the devoted television channels that follow his every move. After the state BJP accused the Gowdas of amassing Rs 1,500 crore in ill-gotten wealth,Kumar anna (anna is elder brother in Kannada),as he is popularly called,went on a fast-unto-death demanding a CBI inquiry into the charge.

The fast lasted all of 28 hours — though no inquiry,CBI or otherwise,had been ordered. A few days later,Kumaraswamy lamely said he would file a defamation suit. The Congress cried itself hoarse,accusing the Gowda family of striking a deal with Yeddyurappa when he broke the fast after a day.

Kumaraswamy,51,the more ambitious and dynamic of Deve Gowda’s two politician sons,used to dabble in Kannada films as a producer and distributor. His older brother,H.D. Revanna,was seen as his father’s political heir — until Kumar anna came in from behind to usurp that role and became chief minister,joining hands with the BJP.

During the course of his political career,Kumaraswamy has become adept at pulling the carpet from under his rivals’ feet; first the Congress and its chief minister Dharam Singh’s,and later the BJP and B.S. Yeddyurappa’s.

Last month,Kumaraswamy’s histrionics reached a new high when he dramatically responded to his temple-hopping rival Yeddyurappa for a face-off before the presiding deity in the famous Dharmasthala Manjunatha temple on the Karnataka coast.

On June 27,the two were to swear on the gods and declare that each of them was speaking the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Devotees believe that lying in the temple invites the presiding deity’s wrath and is akin to self-destruction.

As commoners read it,it was more about which of the two was more corrupt,a better liar and,indeed,a bigger embarrassment to Karnataka. Mercifully,the swearing duel did not come off as Yeddyurappa blinked and backed off.

Kumaraswamy’s antics guarantee him mileage beyond television news. His more sensational exploits rarely make it to the national headlines though. Gossip about his romantic life has given the local tabloids enough fodder,verbal and pictorial. His fast-car-loving son Nikhil,whom many see as a next-generation politician,made a dramatic headline-grabbing entry when he was involved in a restaurant brawl a few years ago.

On the Gowda political front,there is an uneasy silence at the moment. A confrontational Kumaraswamy,who only seems to get bolder and more aggressive with time,has relegated the Congress in Karnataka to the background.

His father H.D. Deve Gowda may have branded himself “mannina maga” (son of the soil). His rivals may be wily and shrewd. But with his bulldog-like persistence,it is the opportunist Kumaraswamy who has ensured that he will be the reckoning factor in Karnataka politics.

Over to you,Mr Kumaraswamy. We await the next episode of the spectacle.

saritha.rai@expressindia.com

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