Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy visited the Chamundi Hill Temple 13 km outside Mysuru and sought the blessings of Goddess Chamundeshwari — Durga, the fierce manifestation of Shakti — early on Friday, 18 November.
After offering prayers, he left for Mulbagal in the Kolar district, more than 200 km from Mysuru, to inaugurate his ambitious statewide Pancharatna Rathayathre, which had been twice postponed. The yatra started rolling on Saturday, 19 November. Its first phase will conclude on 27 December.
The JD(S)’s legislative party leader in the Karnataka Assembly, Kumaraswamy, has his sights set on the chief minister’s office, which he hopes to occupy if the 2023 state elections produce a fractured mandate.
The Pancharatna Rathayathre, loosely translated as the ‘Chariot trip of five gems,’ will cover 126 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, showcasing five welfare programmes the JD(S) plans to implement once it returns to power.
Five welfare schemes
Five tableaus are part of the yatra, each spreading awareness about the planned welfare schemes, free education till class 12, free healthcare, initiatives for farmers, employment for each family member and housing for all.
Kumaraswamy’s yatra follows the BJP’s Jana Sankalpa Yatra and Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The former chief minister has included his impactful ‘Grama Vastavya (village stay)’ in the yatra. He hopes that the yatra would help his party win enough seats — at least 123 — so that he could emerge as the kingmaker.
The importance the JD(S) has attached to the yatra is evident from the fact that Kumaraswamy and other party MLAs are contemplating skipping the Assembly’s 10-day winter session starting 19 December in Belagavi, a district bordering Maharashtra.
“The issues the BJP government discusses in the Assembly these days will be to divert the people’s attention — by bringing in religion, Hindutva, and targeting minorities, etc., There are no constructive discussions or debate at the assembly sessions these days,” Rangothri, JD(S) spokesperson told South First.
“Hence, JD(S) supremo and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy are contemplating skipping the Belagavi Assembly sessions and instead focusing on their Pacharatna Ratayatre,” he added.
Yatra to discuss issues with people
The yatra was to be flagged off on Karnataka Rayjotsava day on 1 November but was postponed due to heavy rains. The yatra will cover around 30 villages each day before halting for the night at a hamlet, for Grama Vastavya. The leaders will meet and discuss issues with the people of the constituency during the vastavya. The Rathayatre will resume after breakfast the next day.
Earlier, JD(S) leaders prayed at the Kurudumale Ganapathi Temple, 10 km outside the Mulbagal town, before the inauguration. “Even in 1994, JD(S) Supremo Deve Gowda similarly started the Rathayatre from Mulbagal,” Rangothri added.
Specially-designed eight vehicles are part of the Pancharatna Rathayatre which will cover at least 36 constituencies in its first stage. It will pass through five constituencies in Kolar, three in Bengaluru Rural, five in Chikkaballapura, 10 in Tumkur, six in Ramanagara, and seven in Mandya.
“The JD(S) will also release its list of all candidates by Christmas or by Sankranti (January 14th),” Rangothri said.
While inaugurating the yatra, HD Deve Gowda said: “Modi, Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, nobody helped Karnataka to resolve the Cauvery water dispute. HD Kumaraswamy sought the full support of 123 candidates he would field. He is proud that his party has a proven record of implementing and meeting its promises such as the waiver of farmers’ loans totalling ₹25,000 crore in the 14 months of the coalition government.
“The second phase of the yatra will start either from Mysore or Davanagere,” JD(S) leader Ambika Mani said.