JD(S) appoints an ‘outsider’ as party president after five years of CM HDK reign

BENGALURU: After a rather “successful” stint as party state president, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy on Sunday vacated the post and make way for Hunsur MLA H Vishwanath as the new state president for the JD(S).

Having managed to come back to power, Vishwanath’s election as the party president is being seen as an effort by the JD(S) to shed the Vokkaliga party tag, despite the fact that it was the dominant south Karnataka community that propelled the party to win 36 seats in the 2018 elections.

Vishwanath, a Kuruba, was long associated with the Congress and even the Lok Sabha MP from Mysuru from the party. He quit the Congress in 2017 and joined the JD(S) ahead of the 2018 assembly elections.

A seasoned politician, Vishwanath was a member of the Karnataka assembly for five terms and even became a cabinet minister in the S M Krishna cabinet, before being elected as an MP to the Lok Sabha in 2009.

At the 2018 hustings, Vishwanath was able to first manage the JD(S) ticket from Prajwal Revanna, son of PWD minister H D Revanna, after a much public tussle, and win the seat with a comfortable margin.

While Vishwanath was hopeful of becoming a minister in the Kumaraswamy cabinet, due to the “overpopulation” of ministers from south Karnataka, Bandeappa Kashempur from the Kuruba community and MLA from Bidar was preferred.

As state president, Vishwanath appointment is being seen as a message to former CM Siddaramaiah and the Congress that the regional party is keen on strengthening its cadre base in the old Mysuru region.

When quizzed, after being named as the state president of the party, on how he will counter Siddaramaiah’s sway over the other backward classes (OBC), Vishwanath with a hint of sarcasm said: “I and Siddaramaiah will both be deft and shrewd in trying to bring the communities under our sway.”

Interestingly, Vishwanath appointment is preceded by another “outsider” in A Krishnappa who was also a leader from the backward classes (Golla) and a former Congress leader who jumped to JD(S) in 2012-13.

Vishwanath said the responsibility entrusted to him by Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy was quite important and that his aim will be to strengthen the party both in south and north Karnataka regions.

“I do understand the responsibility of being made the state president at this critical juncture, when the party is in coalition with the Congress in the state. I will try to live up to the hopes and aspirations of the party leaders,” he said.

He is scheduled to take charge of the office on Monday at 11 am, after visiting the Gavi Gangadeshwara temple in Bavanagudi.

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