The Karnataka Congress has been dealing with rebelling leaders since the coalition government came to power. The wave of dissent has now moved on to the JD(S) with the party's state President H Vishwanath stating that he cannot continue serving as the state chief.
Speaking to the media, Vishwanath said, "I have undergone multiple surgeries and am not in the best of health. It will be difficult for me to tour the state and strengthen the party's base. Such a campaign at a stretch, given my health condition is not possible. I think it is best to resign from the post of State President," H Vishwanath said.
Although Vishwanath has cited health issues as the reason for his inability to continue serving as the party's state President, sources in the JD(S) said that he is angry about being sidelined.
Party sources say that Vishwanath, as the state President, has not been given any decision-making powers. "All decisions are taken by Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. No one is given the freedom to carry out works to spread the party's base. And it has become evident that the first family does not want to expand its scope beyond Old Mysuru," a JD(S) source said.
H Vishwanath, a former Congress leader from the Hunsur area, has a large backing from the Kuruba community. Vishwanath, who had aspirations of climbing up the ranks in the Congress was checked at every move. Many in the Congress say that former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is from the Kuruba community, had allegedly sabotaged Vishwanath's attempts to become a strong face in the party. He then defected from Congress to the JD(S) in 2017 on the promise of a seat. He went on to contest as a JD(S) candidate and win from Hunsur in the 2018 Assembly Election.
"H Vishwanath joined JD(S) because he had no other option. Siddaramaiah had gone to such an extent as to ensure he was denied a ticket for the 2018 Assembly Polls. Vishwanath was lured by Deve Gowda with the promise of a ministerial berth. When Kumaraswamy announced his list of ministers in June, Vishwanath was shocked. He was pacified with the post of the state President but he soon realised he had no power or say. Now he wants a ministerial berth," the JD(S) source added.
With the Congress inducting eight new Ministers into the state cabinet, the onus is now on the JD(S) to induct new ministers too. The JD(S) has two ministerial vacancies and H Vishwanath is an aspirant.
The party's cadre too, is disappointed with HD Kumaraswamy, who complain of inaccessibility. "He (Kumaraswamy) made us believe that we were the strength of the party. Once he became the CM, he forgot about us. He is never available to hear our problems. Many senior leaders have been sidelined and insulted once Kumaraswamy became the CM. The party's seniors like YSV Datta and Basavaraj Horatti feel betrayed," a JD(S) functionary said.
Party insiders say that the disgruntled veterans and several other party leaders and functionaries are now relying on H Vishwanath to negotiate a better deal for them. JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has called for a meeting of party functionaries and leaders on Wednesday to discuss the induction of new ministers and also the appointments to state-run boards and corporations.
"H Vishwanath and Kumaraswamy will preside over the meeting. We have to wait and see what happens," the JD(S) source added.