By Mathihalli Madan Mohan
Devegowda’s Janata Dal in Karnataka is going through a sort of political catharsis of late.
There is lot of rumbling in the ranks in general, on myriad issues, over the prospects of survival as a party of political relevance in Karnataka. At present the prospects of the party coming to power on its own strength or in partnership with others are nil to bleak.
With Karnataka settling for two party system, – of BJP and Congress, the third political fiddle like the JDS is quite misfit in the present scheme of political things in Karnataka.
The voting pattern in the assembly elections clearly show where the peoples political preferences lie. Overwhelming majority of voters prefer the two main parties namely Congress and BJP and JDS has to be satisfied with a few left over crumbs.
In all elections held after 2004, the Karnataka voters have unequivocally prefer single party rule and abhor the prospects of coalition governments. This has not been a good augury for the JDSs whose political bread and butter basically lay in a hung verdict.
For a nascent political outfit like JDS, political survival has a crucial issue, since power alone can keep its flock together. The assembly elections held in 2004 was its height of political achievement with the party despite being the third in terms of seats won, could partner with the two top parties in two coalition governments that assumed office during the period thanks to maneuverable skills of Devegowda, the master tactician in Karnataka politician and his son Kumaraswamy. Otherwise it has been a period of cooling the heels in the opposition ranks, which is not exactly pleasing to its workers at practically all levels.
The dim prospects of tasting power in the near future have made its rank and feel has led to the rumbling of sorts and deepening disappointment among the workers. And is finding expression in myriad issues and one of them being the long pending vacancy of the position of the state party chief.
When Devegowda after much humming and hawing decided to put back the mantle to neck of his son Kumaraswamy, it brought to fore succinctly the major fault line in the working of the party, that the party is shorn of leadership material or that Devegowda the party supremo does not anybody outside the charmed family circle for the responsibility. Moreover it has not gone unnoticed that any person chosen outside the family circles for the top post, is nothing more than puppet dancing to the tunes of party supremo.
That the splinter JD group headed by Devegowda had hardly any future was something inherent when Gowda engineered the split to seek an independent political pasture. First it destroyed the parent party itself. Secondly the split paved the way for the emergence of BJP as a major political player in Karnataka. And the JDS could regain the political glory and name of the party. The JDS could not endear itself to the people of Northern Karnataka which was the forte of the undivided party and cooked the goose of the political dream of Gowda of ruling Karnataka once again.
The party’s chance of reviving its political prominence came briefly during the less than twenty month stint, when Kumaraswamy successfully worked behind the scene to put second coalition with the BJP under his stewardship. For that he had to pull a fast one on Congress led coalition in which his own party was a junior partner.
The debutant Chief Minister, who landed in top post without going through the normal drill, Kumaraswamy was a remarkable success. His frequent interactions with the people at the grass root level had contributed to a good image being built about him among the people of state including those in politically hostile terrain of Northern Karnataka. He was seen a leader of the future, who can rally round and help revive the erstwhile JD by bringing back all those who gone away.
When the going was good came another blow which practically washed off all chance of Janata Pariwar getting regrouped under Kumaraswamy to emerge as a major political force in Karnataka was delivered by none other Devegowda himself.
Gowda prevailed upon Kumaraswamy to renege on his promise of handing over power to BJP after the expiry of twenty months. The ruckus led to assembly being dissolved and fresh elections being held, which catapulted the BJP as a ruling party to create political history of sorts.
While the first rupture as explained earlier, brought power to Congress in 1989, the second one caused by Devegowda now resulted BJP coming to power in 2008.
Why did Devegowda go out of the way to wreck the political career of his own son? It is because of his own political ambitions. He wanted to gain political respectability at the Centre and brought down coalition government headed by his son, which had BJP as partner. But Goddess’s gamble did not give him the expected political dividends.
At the national level, Gowda is being totally ignored and at the state level, his outfit is on the downhill march the forced exile has resulted in Kumaraswamy losing all his elan of the past and the credibility he had once created.
Politically in Karnataka JDS has become a pariah. Hung verdict in assembly election is the only occasion when the party can wag its tail to its political advantage. For the past two assembly elections voters have unequivocally preferred the single party.
Besides the age is catching up the octogenarian Gowda. Though he may have energy to go around, his has become a stale political face as for as the new generation of voters is concerned. This is the reason why JDS leaders are veering round to Congress or BJP for their survival. Gowda is not in a position to check the ground on which he is standing getting eroded.
In the meantime, another effort is afoot at national level for reuniting the various Janata Dal factions with a provide a national alternative to the BJP and Devegowda of Karnataka, has been one of active canvassers of the idea. Will this have an impact in Karnataka, is the scheme that is debated at the moment.
On the face of it, the idea looks quite attractive but practically it is one of the most unworkable propositions, if one were to dissect the reasons that contributed to the political decimation of the united Janata Dal. The main weakness in the arrangement was that each of the leaders pursued their own personal political agenda even at the cost of sacrificing the parent party. None of them still active in politics has a national image with a view to prevailing upon people to repose trust in them.
In Karnataka, the move has no relevance. Only JD(S) has survived as a rump party after the collapse of the Janata Dal experiment. Most of them who refused to go along with Devegowda have found their moorings in BJP. And those left have become politically irrelevant .Knowing Devegowda’s penchant for personalized and vindictive politics nobody would like to travel with him once again after their bitter experience of the past.
(Posted on November 19 , 2014 @ 07:30pm)
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