Congress ex-Minister in Karnataka joins JD-S

Bengaluru: Former Karnataka Minister and Congress rebel A.H. Vishwanath on Tuesday joined the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

“It is historic turn in my political career. I will strive to bring the JD-S back to power in the state. I will also tour the state with its leaders to strengthen the party,” Vishwanath told reporters here.

The assembly elections in the southern state are due in April-May 2018.

Nearly 30 of Vishwanath’s supporters also joined the regional outfit in the presence of Deve Gowda and JD-S state unit President and former Karnataka Chief Minster H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Vishwanath, 67, resigned from the Congress on June 24 after a four-decade association.

“I will continue my struggle for the uplift of the backward classes in Karnataka,” said the former lawmaker of the Lok Sabha and assembly from Mysuru, about 140km from here.

“There is no need to give reasons for quitting the Congress and joining the JD-S, as my aim is to strengthen it,” Vishwanath said.

A strong political leader from the Kuruba (shepherd) community, Vishwanath was a Minister in the S.M. Krishna-led Congress government from October 1999 to May 2004.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 from the Mysuru constituency but lost to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prathap Simha in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Though Vishwanath claimed to have brought Chief Minister Siddaramaiah into the Congress from the JD-S, he rebelled against the latter for alleged ignoring of senior leaders and cadres who brought the Congress back to power in 2013 after a decade.