Reporter/Producer: Pratiba Raman
Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar
Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy spoke exclusively to The Quint while campaigning at Yeshwantpur constituency in Bengaluru. While poll experts are predicting a win for Congress this election in Karnataka, will Kumaraswamy have his say in the government which comes to power?
Journey With Kumaraswamy
Having served two terms as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy has often emerged as the kingmaker in the state. The Quint tried to reach out to Kumar Anna (brother), as he is fondly known, to find out which side he’d lean to in case the upcoming election results in a fractured mandate.
Kumaraswamy was busy with meetings and campaigns and just when he finalised a time, he fell ill and was hospitalised.
As he embarked on rigorous campaigns following his discharge from the hospital, we decided to get on his campaign trail. After following him for two hours straight, the JDS leader decided to take a break and spoke to The Quint. “I am slowly recovering. Despite the advice of the doctors, I can’t stay quiet. I started my work yesterday. In another two days, I will be touring through north Karnataka,” he said, adding that this is a crucial election for the party.
Kumaraswamy claimed that he is the only person who can successfully “run around the state.” And that’s precisely why he has chosen to ignore his health constraints and put his party at the forefront.
JD(S) Goals Above Congress, BJP
Forget being the third largest party in Karnataka like in 2018, Kumaraswamy said that 2023 will see JD(S) emerging as the single largest party. “I am not saying this out of overconfidence. I have been travelling through the state for the last four months. I know the pulse of the people. I work 18 hours everyday. I will win 123 seats through sheer hard work,” he explained, unmindful of the predictions which have gone the Congress' way.
The regional party leader, who has often emerged as the kingmaker or even the king, dismissed opinion polls.
Kumaraswamy first sided with the BJP when BS Yediyurappa was leading the party. He then shifted to the Congress in 2018. Will he repeat history with the Congress in 2023 or will he go back to the BJP that is devoid of Yediyurappa’s leadership?
“There is still time. We have another ten days. My weakness is finance. If that is sorted, I will cross the magic number."HD Kumaraswamy, JD(S)
If the financial strain puts Kumaraswamy into the kingmaker’s seat, will he demand the CM’s seat as part of the bargain? “With BJP or Congress friends, I can’t succeed in implementing the programmes announced by the JD(S). To give a good life to the people of Karnataka, I need a clear majority,” he said.
JD(S) patriarch HD Devegowda recently stated his inclination to support the Left parties in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Will his son follow suit? “My focus is on 2023 Karnataka election. Post this, I will reveal my future intentions,” stressed Kumaraswamy, as he was immediately pulled back into the campaign trail.
“I’m running out of time,” he said, as he excused himself out.
(Pratiba Raman is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru)