The eighteenth Chief Minister of Karnataka was for a very long time overshadowed by his father, H. D. Deve Gowda’s persona. H. D. Kumaraswamy’s identity, intricately twined with his father’s identity, untangled when he became the Chief Minister of Karnataka on the 3rd of February 2006. His tenure as Chief Minister lasted till the 9th of October 2007. He was succeeded by B. S. Yeddyurappa in the office of the Chief Minister.
The Political Path
H. D. Kumaraswamy, popularly and affectionately known as “Kumar Anna” or brother by his supporters was far from the politician that he is today. His interests lay miles away from the path of politics, tied to the fabulous world of cinema for a very long time.
Film making and film distribution held Kumaraswamy’s interest. He was especially interested in following the style embodied by thespian actor Dr. Rajkumar on the silver screen. A producer and distributor of several Kannada films, Kumaraswamy seemed content being a film personality.
Politics did infiltrate his life eventually. Kumaraswamy was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 from Kanakpura. He contested in vain from a different constituency in 1999. In 2004, Kumaraswamy’s fortunes turned and he was elected to represent the Ramanagara constituency.
Kumaraswamy ‘s Term as Chief Minister
H. D. Kumaraswamy was invited by Governor T. N. Chaturvedi to form the government in 2006 when Dharam Singh resigned as Chief Minister of Karnataka. During his term as Chief Minister, he sought from the very first day to differ in his administration and implementation of policies from his famous father.
H. D. Kumaraswamy implemented various schemes and policies that changed the lives of many citizens forever. He did not focus only on the poor or on technological advancements. Kumaraswamy was interested in effecting sweeping changes across Karnataka making it a better place than it was.
The Janatadarshana Plan
As the Chief Minister of a large state, Kumaraswamy wanted to be easily approachable and available to understand the lives of the people he was leading. This was impractical while being glassed in.
He devised an ingenious plan called “Janatadarshana”. Through the Janatadarshana, he gave the people of Karnataka an opportunity to let their grievances be known to the government in power. The event drew people from across the state looking for solutions.
To the people residing in the villages, making the trip to Bangalore in the hopes of meeting the Chief Minister seemed too much of a financial burden on their already strained lives. Kumaraswamy did not falter and set out to meet the people in their own homes.
He visited numerous homes and villages in every corner of Karnataka. Through the Janatadarshana he received the grievances of people through direct contact and email. He redressed as many grievances as he could during his tenure.
During his term as Chief Minister, H. D. Kumaraswamy set out with a particular set of goals that he made public. His intention to change the face of North Karnataka was particularly evident through his tenure as Chief Minister.
He also helped the rural and urban poor and underprivileged people. Notably, Kumaraswamy addressed the discrepancy in the sex ratio of Karnataka. He announced that the state would give Rs. 10,000 to every daughter born after March 2006. He hoped that the money would change the fortunes of female fetus and infants who were disposed of as they were considered a liability.
Although he seemed to be a successful Chief Minister, his personal life came under scrutiny and led to speculations, rumors and scandals surrounding him. He was publicly accused of being in two separate marriages at the same time. None of the allegations were proved or disproved but the scars remained.
For a man who was pushed repeatedly into the shadow cast by his father, H. D. Kumaraswamy broke out and sought to create his own identity and administration independent of his father and brother.