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“I’m Like Shiva Who Drank Poison”: Tearful HD Kumaraswamy On Coalition

Less than two months after taking charge of the government in Karnataka, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy broke down at a meeting of his party, the Janata Dal Secular, yesterday, claiming that the coalition with the Congress was painful and comparing himself to Lord Shiva, who had drunk poison to save the world. His deputy, G Parameshwara of the Congress, however, brushed off the matter, saying a chief minister “has to be always happy”.
The alliance between Mr Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular and the Congress, where the larger party chose to take a backseat to keep the BJP out of power in the state, was seen as a model for the anti-BJP front ahead of the 2019 general elections.

But over the last two months, the alliance walked a rocky road. Its many challenges included a tussle over portfolios and the presentation of the state budget, which Mr Kumaraswamy’s predecessor Siddaramaiah was not in favour of as he had presented a full budget in February.

 Despite many BJP taunts about an “unholy alliance”, both Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy had kept up a united front. But on Saturday, at a party meeting which was also meant to felicitate him, Mr Kumaraswamy became emotional.

“You are standing with flowers on roads, near my house, to wish me… you all are happy as I became the Chief Minister, but I’m not… I’m not happy. I know the pain of the coalition government. I became vishakant (Lord Shiva who drank poison) and swallowing the pain of this coalition government,” he told party workers.

After his oath ceremony in May, Mr Kumaraswamy said that he was not taking the post “happily”, as he did not receive the complete trust of the people. “I have not become Chief Minister today happily. I have pain. I had placed several issues in front of people during election feeling that they will trust me, but people of the state have not shown trust in me,” he said.

Yesterday, he referred to it again, saying he did not wish to be Chief Minister “to enjoy power but to solve the problems of my people and fulfill the unfinished agenda of my father”. But the people, he said, did not give him majority.

His deputy, Mr Parameshwara, however, played down the matter. “How can he say that? He must be definitely happy, CM has to be always happy, if he’s happy we’ll all be happy,” he said.

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