From Karnataka CM to Cabinet Minister in Modi government: JD(S)’ HD Kumaraswamy’s political profile

Kumaraswamy's early years in politics were marked by challenges and he lost his deposit in 1998 when he sought re-election from Kanakapura.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 09, 2024 | 6:09 PMUpdatedJun 09, 2024 | 8:02 PM

HD KUmaraswamy as Cabinet Minister in Modi government

65-year-old HD Kumaraswamy — Karnataka JD(S) chief and former chief minister of the state — took oath as a Cabinet minister in the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Sunday, 9 June.

With the support of Janata Dal (United) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), BJP’s Narendra Modi will be swearing-in as the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term.

Along with the Prime Minister, several other elected parliamentarians of the BJP and its allies, including JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy will be taking oath as Cabinet Ministers in the Modi government.

With a political career spanning several decades, Kumaraswamy has navigated numerous electoral challenges and coalition dynamics, notably leading the Karnataka government twice for a brief period.

Kumaraswamy’s experience and political savvy have made him a key figure in Karnataka’s political arena. This appointment marks a significant moment in his career, showcasing his ability to adapt and remain influential in the ever-changing political landscape.

The JD(S)’s Karnataka unit president’s inclusion in the central cabinet underscores the strategic alliances shaping the future of both state and national politics.

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Early life 

Kumaraswamy was born to JD(S) patriarch and former PM HD Deve Gowda and Chennamma at Haradanahalli in Holenarsipura taluka of Hassan district on 16 December 1959.

Kumaraswamy is one of the six children born to Deve Gowda. His brother HD Revanna is also a JD(S) MLA from the Holenarsipura assembly seat. Kumaraswamy did his early education in Hassan and higher education in Bengaluru. He was a film producer and businessman by profession before venturing into politics.

Early years in Politics

Kumaraswamy began his political career by winning the Ramanagara’s Kanakapura parliament seat in the 1996 Lok Sabha polls. However, his early years in politics were marked by significant challenges.

In 1998, he sought re-election from Kanakapura but faced a severe setback, losing to MV Chandrashekar Murthy. He lost his deposit, making it his worst defeat ever.

In 1999, he faced yet another setback as he lost the Sathanur assembly seat against Congress’ DK Shivakumar in 1999. He got his next breakthrough only in the 2004 assembly polls.

Kumaraswamy’s debut in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly was in 2004 when he won the Assembly polls from Ramanagara. This maiden victory in the assembly polls paved the wave for his subsequent political successes.

Related: PM Modi has given me an opportunity as a minister: JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy

Becoming CM Amid Political Uncertainty

JD(S) supremo’s son HD Kumaraswamy became the 18th Chief Minister of Karnataka in his maiden term as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. In the aftermath of the 2004 state elections in Karnataka, a hung assembly emerged with no single party securing a majority.

To resolve the deadlock, the Indian National Congress and JD(S) decided to form a coalition government. Congress’ Dharam Singh was chosen unanimously by both parties to lead the government, and he was sworn in as Chief Minister on 28 May 2004.

However, political stability proved elusive. Under the leadership of HD Kumaraswamy, forty-two MLAs from the JD(S) defected from the coalition, causing the government’s collapse. This led to Karnataka Governor TN Chaturvedi inviting Kumaraswamy to form a new government, following Dharam Singh’s resignation.

Subsequently, Kumaraswamy was sworn in as Chief Minister on 4 February 2006 and his tenure was marked by a power-sharing agreement between the JD(S) and the BJP. He became popular with his pro-people policies and the flagship programme – Chief Minister Grama Vaastavya (Village Stay) – which is being continued even to date by the state government at the district level.

As part of the coalition agreement, Kumaraswamy was expected to step down on 3 October 2007 to allow a BJP leader to take over. Despite some JD(S) legislators urging him to stay due to complications in the power transfer, Kumaraswamy announced on 27 September 2007 that he would adhere to the agreement.

Going back on his promise, on 4 October 2007, he refused to transfer power to the BJP, prolonging the political uncertainty and leading to presidential rule in Karnataka.

In the subsequent assembly elections in 2008, BJP won 110 seats, falling three seats short of a majority, Congress won 80 seats and JD(S) was reduced to 28 seats from its 58 seats in the previous Assembly polls. Nevertheless, the BJP under the leadership of BS Yediyurappa, ended up forming the government in 2008.

In the changed political scenario, Congress dethroned BJP in the 2013 Assembly polls by winning 122 seats, and BJP and JD(S) won 40 seats each. Under the leadership of Kumaraswamy, JD(S)’s tally increased in the Assembly by 12 seats compared to the previous polls.

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Kumaraswamy headed Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2018-19

In the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections, the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) emerged as the third-largest party winning just 37 seats.

The then-incumbent Congress government slipped to 80 seats from its 122 seats in 2013, whereas the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, falling short of nine seats to form the government.

Despite this, HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) leader, was sworn in as the Chief Minister on 23 May 2018, after forming a post-poll alliance with the Congress. However, in a twist of events, in July 2019, Kumaraswamy’s coalition government faced a significant crisis. Thirteen Congress MLAs and three JD(S) MLAs defected to the BJP, leading to a collapse of the 14-month-long Kumaraswamy-led coalition government.

Kumaraswamy lost the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly and resigned as the CM on the same day. Following this, the Governor invited the BJP – the single largest party – to form the government and BS Yediyurappa was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka, succeeding Kumaraswamy.

In the 2023 assembly polls, JD(S) – under the leadership of Kumaraswamy – put up a poor show and won a mere 19 seats as most of its sitting MLAs lost in the elections. This led to the Congress forming the government with a large majority with Siddaramaiah as the CM.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, JD(S), after striking an alliance with the BJP, managed to win two of the three seats it contested. In Mandya, Kumaraswamy won by a record margin of 2.84 lakh votes against Congress’ Venkataramane Gowda.

With his party announcing support to the BJP, Kumaraswamy, who was an aspirant for the cabinet post, has been accommodated in the Modi cabinet. The former Chief Minister is seeking the Agriculture portfolio.

(Edited by Neena)