‘Jhanda’ may have changed, but my agenda remains the same: Vishwanath

  • The JD(S) on Tuesday welcomed one of its strongest critics, A H Vishwanath into the party fold
  • Vishwanath was formally inducted into the party along with his followers in the presence of H D Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy and other leaders
  • JD(S) to host a massive convention in Mysuru to mark Vishwanath’s entry into the party, shortly

A H Vishwanath, a bitter critic of the JD(S) and its leadership, joined the same party on Tuesday hoping that the move would give a boost to his dwindling political career.  

Vishwanath, a staunch Congress loyalist, quit the grand old party recently following his fallout with friend-turned-foe, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, and his subsequent isolation from party colleagues and the Central leadership. 

The former MP made a formal entry into the regional party with 30-odd followers, a majority of whom hail from Kodagu, Mysuru and North Karnataka region, at the JD(S) party office ‘JP Bhavan’ in Bengaluru. 

In a twist of irony, Vishwanath who had likened JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda to demon god Bhasmasura’ in the past, today, hailed him as one of the tallest political leaders of the country. He also showered praises on JD(S) state president and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, as a leader of the future. 

Stating that the JD(S) was a party which had “produced” a prime minister and several chief ministers, Vishwanath told a packed audience that he would strive towards bringing JD(S) to power by helping the leadership devise better strategies. He also said that his ‘jhanda’ may have changed, but his ‘agenda’ (secular principles) remained the same. 

Today, for strictly political reasons, both the JD(S) and Vishwanath are claiming that the acrimony between them is a thing of the past. But when the proposal to induct the Kuruba leader was mooted, there was initial resistance by the JD(S) leaders, and for obvious reasons. Vishwanath hadn’t missed a single opportunity in attacking the Gowda family for its alleged corrupt practices, especially in the last eight to ten years. 

Branding the party as nepotistic, he in fact popularised the phrase ‘appa-makkala paksha’, by constantly using it as part of his vitriol. As a three time MLA and a one time MP from K R Nagar and Mysuru-Kodagu, respectively, Vishwanath had emerged as a prominent Kuruba leader in the Mysuru region. 

However, when the JD(S) started making inroads into K R Nagara, a constituency he had nurtured for long, Vishwanath became threatened. His antagonism against the party however grew after Siddaramaiah’s (a fellow Kuruba) entry into the Congress in 2006. 

Kumaraswamy, who had earlier accused Vishwanath of having made a political career by criticising him and his father, on Tuesday extended the latter a warm welcome. Hailing Vishwanath as an experienced leader with integrity, Kumaraswamy used the platform to take a dig at Siddaramaiah. 

He said that it was ironic that Vishwanath was “thrown out” by the same leader (Siddaramaiah), who Vishwanath had helped join Congress. “I am aware how pained Vishwanath is. He has been forced to quit a party that he had served for 40 years,” he said.  

He also said that the same leaders who had been groomed by Deve Gowda in the JD(S), were today trying to destroy the party. Kumaraswamy said that his party would aiming at garnering at least ten out of 11 Assembly constituencies in Mysuru, in the upcoming elections. Mysuru also happens to be Siddaramaiah’s home district. 

Assuring the newcomers that they would be treated well in the party, Kumaraswamy said that the JD(S) would host a massive convention in Mysuru to mark Vishwanath’s entry. He said that more Congress leaders and workers would join the JD(S) in the coming days.