With only a few months left for the 2023 assembly elections, former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Monday took pot shots at his former aide-turned-rival Siddaramaiah over the latter’s contribution to the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S).
The political slugfest erupted between the two leaders after the Congress leader questioned the contribution of JD(S) in the freedom struggle, a few days ahead of the Independence Day.
“Siddaramaiah, the self-proclaimed defender of the Constitution, has again spewed poison against the @JanataDal (Secular), questioning the role of the party in the freedom struggle. Regardless of what our party has done, what is the contribution of Sogladi Siddhasutra to the freedom struggle?” Kumaraswamy said in a post on Twitter on Monday.
Siddaramaiah on Sunday had attacked the JD(S) of not being involved in any kind of (freedom) movement , calling them “opportunistic.”“JD(S) was never involved in any movement. It’s not to insult the party but they always wait and then utilise an opportunity,” Siddaramaiah had said.
The former chief minister had added that there was no one other than the Congress who fought for the freedom struggle, hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and consequentially, the JD(S) as well.
“All those who have come close to the Congress party, where there are political junkies like you, have been burned. Regardless of our party, what happened to Shiv Sena in neighbouring Maharashtra? Where are the communists who won 65 constituencies for the mistake of supporting the UPA-1 government? This is the same for all who have been with you!,” he added.
The statements come at a time when the JD(S) has intensified its attacks against the Congress which it considers a threat in the old Mysuru region from where the HD Deve Gowda-led regional outfit draws most of its electoral strength in the assembly.
Siddaramaiah who was with the JD(S) from the early 1980’s till 2006, was forced out by Gowda, his mentor-turned-political rival, as the differences between the duo grew over who will become the chief minister during at least two coalitions in the last two decades.
Siddaramaiah wanted to become the chief minister , however, Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy also aspired for the top chair.
Siddaramaiah had also started mobilising the AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) support which was operationalised by former Karnataka chief minister Devaraj Urs in the 1970s. This went against the Gowda clan who are from the dominant Vokkaliga community, believed to be the second largest caste group in the state.
Siddaramaiah lost the 1999 assembly polls, but had, by this time, mastered the art of remaining relevant irrespective of an electoral outcome. Named as state president of the JD(S), Siddaramaiah served another term as deputy chief minister in the 2004 coalition with the Congress.
Siddaramaiah’s ambition to become the CM was shot down again when Gowda favoured his Kumaraswamy for the top post in 2006 when the JD(S) allied with the BJP, forcing the Kuruba leader from Mysuru to join hands with the Congress. But not without a fight.In the 2006 by-polls, Siddaramaiah scraped through with a slender margin of 257 votes from Chamundeshwari, only to move to neighbouring Varuna for the 2008 assembly polls. Siddaramaiah was named leader of opposition when the Bharatiya Janata Party, under BS Yeddyurappa formed the government in 2009.
In 2013, Siddaramaiah and the Congress stormed to power with the help of AHINDA, sidelining several veteran aspirants within the party like Mallikarjuna Kharge, G Parameshwara and Ramalinga Reddy among others to become the chief minister.
While one part of the Congress is trying not to antagonise the HD Deve Gowda-led outfit as it looks to get the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community, however, Siddaramaiah has been accused of trying to get even with his former mentor, impacting the chance of the party faring well in the old Mysuru region.
The JD(S) does not see the BJP as a threat in the old Mysuru region but the Congress has been actively trying to poach some of the regional outfits leaders to give it a few extra seats in these parts.
“I won’t speak about the JD(S),” Siddaramaiah said, gesturing as though they are not in the same fight as the BJP and Congress.
Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah and Congress state unit president DK Shivakumar are also reported to be in a tussle for the top post even as the latter appealed to the Vokkaliga community to back him as chief minister, should the party win a majority on its own.