Amid a blaring saxophone playing a carnatic tune and bursting of crackers, former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy emerges out of a SUV to mingle with an excited rural crowd.
The son of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda is greeted by the crowd as though he has emerged from a political eclipse of sorts, since him and his bitter foe and once BJP leader, BS Yeddyurappa parted ways after 20 months of coalition. Yeddyurappa then went on to become chief minister after a massive mandate in 2008.
But with politics coming a full circle since then and Yeddyurappa heading his own party and looking to finish off the saffron brigade, there’s already talk of gain for the Janata Dal (Secular).
When addressing the people, Kumaraswamy talks of issues which affect them — loan waiver of loans up to Rs 25,000 for farmers, pensions for widows, differently abled and corruption in governance.
Buoyed by the support, Kumaraswamy tells HT that the reception that we see for him hasn’t come suddenly.
“This has not happened overnight. For more than a year, I have travelled extensively, lived with people in villages under ‘Gram Vastavya’. Our reach is beyond this Cauvery belt of old Mysore. He is particular to underscore that the Gowda family-controlled JD(S) is not just a Vokkalinga party.
Kumaraswamy says both the Congress and the BJP including Modi have failed to touch upon the ground realities.
“I tell them the first thing I will do after I come into office is to sign the order for waiving the loans (which add up to Rs 19,000 crore) and okay a fresh wave of Rs 65,000 crore irrigation schemes.”
Asked why he targets the Congress more than the BJP, Kumaraswamy says, “The Congress is our main rival and enemy of the people. The BJP has been exposed...Our experience with the Congress everyone knows.”
Does not that open himself and the JD(S) to the accusation that it’s keeping door open for post-poll alignment with the BJP? Kumaraswamy is silent for a moment, and then says “the people will give us the mandate.”