MYSURU: The alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ahead of assembly polls helped JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda manage a wider caste engineering which will help his party expand its base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The former prime minister ensured that BSP supremo Mayawati got actively involved during the election campaign and influenced a good number of Dalits to vote for the alliance.
Now Gowda has surprised every one by picking a one time political arch rival-turned-friend and JD(S) MLA AH Vishwanth to head the party. By this, he has sent a strong message among the backward and most backward communities that the JD(S) is ready to walk an extra mile to please the Kuruba community, that was once with JD(S) when Siddaramaiah was its president before 2006. The JD(S), by getting a Kuruba to head the party, has made an initial move to draw Kurubas in old Mysuru region.
To exploit the full potential and involve the Kuraba leader in full-time organisational work, the party wants to bring in young faces and leaders like Madhu Bangarappa, Nirvari, Ramesh Babu, B M Farooq, B B Ningaiah and leaders from Uappara, Nayaka communities to the forefront to have a blend of experienced and young blood to strengthen the party for the Lok Sabha polls. Sources said the JD(S) is looking for a prominent minority face to win over the community.
Though the immediate challenge is to fight Urban Local Bodies and win as many seats as possible on its own and later decide on alliance with local arrangement between the coalition partners, Vishwanath, with four decades of political experience, has to bargain hard for seats and win a good number of seats to improve its presence in Lok sabha apart from maintaining good ties with the coalition partner — Congress and its high command.
The party also feels that widening caste base by roping in backward communities and Dalits and by splitting minority votes may dilute the `father-son’ party tag and would give scope for better share of power at the Centre. Sources said it wants a strong propaganda team that can take Kumaraswamy’s government programmes to the masses and also counter the BJP campaign painting JD(S) as anti-North Karnataka party.