Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday named six-time legislator H.K. Kumaraswamy as the party’s new state president. The move is part of an effort to rebuild the party after its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
Kumaraswamy, who represents Scheduled Castes, was made in-charge of the Vokkaliga-backed party, as it faces an existential threat with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) breathing down its neck.
The JD(S) also named former legislator Madhu Bangarappa as its working president. Chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil was named the leader of JD(S)’s youth wing.
Nikhil’s elevation coincides with that of Udhayanidhi Stalin, the actor son of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M.K. Stalin. Udhayanidhi was made the head of the youth wing of DMK.
Nikhil had unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections against independent candidate Sumalatha Amarnath (Sumalatha Ambareesh) from the Mandya parliamentary seat.
“At 11am today I got a call from party leaders and I didn’t expect this at all. I had said a few days ago in Malavalli that if I work as a diligent party member, only then should I be given any post," Nikhil said in Bengaluru.
His appointment will help retain some balance as the Gowda household witnesses a battle for dominance between Kumaraswamy and his brother H.D. Revanna.
Revanna’s son Prajwal was the sole winner for the JD(S) in the Karnataka Lok Sabha polls.
Prajwal, who congratulated the new president and other office bearers, said in Delhi that he was not aware of Nikhil’s appointment, indicating that all was not well within the family.
However, the JD(S) have bigger problems, especially with its alliance with the Congress perpetually in trouble, mostly emanating from within the latter’s ranks.
Gowda had earlier hinted at mid-term polls before backtracking on his statements.
The newly appointed JD(S) president would have to keep his legislators in check as several of them have lashed out at the alliance especially around the time of the parliamentary elections.
Some JD(S) legislators have absolved the BJP of blame in this resignation drama.
However, like his predecessor A.H.Vishwanath, the new president of the JD(S) is more likely to playa nominal role as most decisions pertaining to the party are taken only by Deve Gowda.
Vishwanath had lamented the lack of decision making powers among other concerns. A vocal critic of former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah, Vishwanath had also accused the former of restricting entry of the two party presidents to the coordination and monitoring committee, a body set up to ensure the smooth functioning of relationships between the alliance partners.
“Only if both parties have coordination on all levels will there be any meaning to such a committee," Vishwanath said.
The Congress, which is also undergoing a complete reorganisation of its state, district, booth and block units, is trying hard to contain the growing dissent among its members.