Karnataka: HDK Head, Congress A Strong Wagging Tail

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Karnataka: HDK Head, Congress A Strong Wagging Tail

HDK takes oath as CM of Karnataka, D Parameswara is Deputy CM

After days of political circus and a sudden downpour from the skies, Karnataka got its 24th Chief Minister when Janata Dal leader H D Kumaraswamy (HDK) took oath in front of the sprawling Vidhana Soudha. The oath was administered by Governor Vajubhai Vala.

But HDK or his father H D Deve Gowda were not the stars of the show, it was the large anti-BJP brigade that had gathered at the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru from where the `oust Modi’ move is expected to roll on ahead of 2019 general elections. Among those present were one time enemies, many time foes and constant name callers till the recent past.Karnataka: HDK Head, Congress A Strong Wagging Tail

Present at the venue were Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president, chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal and Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala. Others included former CMs Siddaramaiah, Mayawati and Akhilesh, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, RJD leader Lalu’s son Tejeswi Yadav and CPI’s D Raja.

Strangely, Telangana CM K Chandrasekhara Rao skipped today’s ceremony citing prior engagements. He came yesterday and wished Kumaraswamy and his father H D Deve Gowda. But sources say he did not want to be seen on the dais with his `enemies’ – the Congress and Chandrababu Naidu.

Also, at the swearing in ceremony, the Congress and the JD(S) supporters stood separately. Former CM Yeddyurappa was at this sarcastic best when he said this government comes with an expiry date; and that is three months, not 5 years.

This will be HDK’s second chance to head a government. The first was in February 2006, leading a coalition with the BJP.

Minutes later, Karnataka got its first Dalit deputy chief minister when G Parameshwara, Congress party chief of the state, took oath. He has been KPCC president for eight years and an MLA for the fourth time.

Another Congress heavyweight KR Ramesh Kumar, a five-term MLA, will be the Speaker. The deputy Speaker’s post will go to the JD(S). Kumar was a Speaker from 1994 to 1999. He was then in the Janata Dal.

According to the final formula thrashed out in Delhi between HDK and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, JD(S) will get 11 berths, Congress 21, excluding the CM and the deputy CM. Karnataka cabinet’s sanctioned strength is 34.

Though HDK is the CM, he will preside over a government that is loaded with Congress heavyweights, making his life ahead very uncomfortable and full of compromises. He will seek the trust vote on May 25. Sources said all ministers will be sworn in on May 29.

As DK Shivakumar also mounted pressure and staked claim for the deputy CM’s post, the high command may make him the KPCC president considering the 2019 polls. But sources said he may settle for the post along with a berth in the cabinet.

HDK Tells Governor He Accepts Cong Offer; DKS Spoilsport

The present HDK government has stuck to political tradition of swimming against the tide. Since 1983, when Ramakrishna Hegde formed the first non-Congress government in the state, Karnataka has always had a government that swims against the national current. When Hegde’s Janata Party came to power, Congress was the ruling party at the Centre.

When the Janata Dal gave way to Congress in Vidhana Soudha in 1989, the National Front led by Janata Dal’s V P Singh assumed power in New Delhi.

But just two small exceptions: in 2013, when Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah was sworn in, UPA was in power and when the United Front under H D Deve Gowda was ruling the nation, and Janata Dal’s J H Patel was ruling the state.

Karnataka: HDK Head, Congress A Strong Wagging Tail
HD Deva Gowda

When Congress chief minister S M Krishna was in power from 1999 to 2004, Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA was ruling at the Centre. Krishna was to blunder soon when he advanced elections by six months, sensing a wave in favour of the Congress at the national level. But Krishna failed to attain a majority and a coalition government of Congress and JD(S) came to power, which collapsed too soon.

Some analysts say that the recent Assembly election results were surely anti-Congress but, at the same time, not pro-BJP either. This makes it difficult to decide which way Karnataka is currently tilting. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Karnataka voters may opt for individuals who should be in power rather than a party.