In 1996, when JD(S) national president HD Deve Gowda became the PM with just 16 Members of Parliament, not many believed the luck that had favoured the regional party from the South.
Twenty-two years later, having won 15% of seats in the Karnataka assembly, a similar situation has risen in the state – Gowda’s son and JD (S) state president HD Kumaraswamy is on the cusp of becoming the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka.
Such is the Gowda family luck that if Congress only commits to giving outside support, of the 38 JD (S) MLAs, 33 will become ministers in the next government, along with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.
Over the past two decades, JD(S) has survived largely by being the kingmaker in state politics.
While the party may have lost power in 2008, and has been in the opposition for 10 years, it came back into the reckoning in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in 2015. In fact, the scenario is similar to the civic polls when the JD(S) joined hands with the Congress and ruined the BJP‘s chances of forming the local government in the capital city despite winning 101 of 198 seats. The JD(S) which got only 14 seats even secured a deputy mayoral post for five years.
Over the past three months, while exuding confidence of coming to power with an absolute majority, party sources claim JD(S) was secretly hoping to at the least become a kingmaker. “The party was never going to go beyond its bastion and a few constituencies outside Old Mysuru region. However, by coming to power, the party is certainly going to get a morale booster to expand,” said a party worker.
On Tuesday, the re-run of the BBMP elections appears to have captured the political narrative in Karnataka polls.
Purely on the basis of community backing, JD(S) consolidation of Vokkaliga votes in its bastion of four districts of Hassan, Mysuru, Ramanagara and Mandya propelled them to reach 30 seats. The other eight seats were secured in the rest of Karnataka. While the popular mandate may have rested with BJP and Congress, JD(S) has become a vital force for the incumbent ruling party to thwart the BJP from coming to power with only 18% vote share.
Such is the luck of the JD(S), despite having lost three more seats than they gained in 2013, the party got the golden opportunity to lead the government. “The JD(S) has joined hands with the Congress in the interest of Karnataka’s land, water and language. Nothing more,” said JD(S) spokesperson and MLC Ramesh Babu.