US embassy cable - 06CHENNAI212

NEW KARNATAKA CHIEF MINISTER H.D. KUMARASWAMY

Identifier: 06CHENNAI212
Wikileaks: View 06CHENNAI212 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Chennai
Created: 2006-02-07 10:24:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV PINR IN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO8149
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #0212/01 0381024
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071024Z FEB 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7306
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1444
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4686
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0439
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 000212 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR INR/B AND SA/INS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, IN 
SUBJECT: NEW KARNATAKA CHIEF MINISTER H.D. KUMARASWAMY 
 
REF: CHENNAI 0163 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Haradanahally Deve Kumaraswamy (age 
46), a former film producer and the son of former Indian 
Prime Minister Deve Gowda, became the new Chief Minister 
of the south Indian state of Karnataka on February 3, 
2006.  Kumaraswamy, who led a defection of Janata Dal 
(Secular) (JD(S)) assembly members causing the former 
government of Congress Party's Dahram Singh to fall, has 
little experience outside of his native Karnataka.  Among 
his first acts as Chief Minister has been the wooing of 
the large Bangalore-based knowledge industry in a bid to 
secure their support, which he sees as critical for his 
survival.  This message provides biographic information 
on Kumaraswamy.  END SUMMARY 
 
--------------------------------------- 
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN MEETING KUMARASWAMY 
--------------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Kumaraswamy's English language skills are 
extremely limited.  During Kumaraswamy's visit to 
Consulate Chennai in June 2005 in connection with a visa 
application (he received a ten-year validity tourist visa 
but then cancelled a scheduled trip to the U.S. to attend 
to political matters), Poloff's attempted conversation 
with him was limited to very short questions and even 
shorter responses.  His demeanor seemed sullen and 
uncommunicative, but that may be a result of his 
uncertainty with the English language.  Press reports 
quote him as saying, "I want to learn spoken English." 
Often dressed in homespun cotton shirts and light 
trousers, he comes across as a person who prefers to 
remain in the shadows.  That is where he remained during 
the time his father and former Indian Prime Minister Deve 
Gowda served in office. 
 
---------------------------- 
HORIZON LIMITED TO KARNATAKA 
---------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Educated entirely in Karnataka, Kumaraswamy 
attended the Saint Joseph School in Hassan, where he is 
remembered for playing hooky, often spending time in the 
local cinema watching his favorite movies.  His college 
education was entirely in Bangalore.  Despite faring 
poorly academically, he received his Bachelor of Science 
degree from National College, Bangalore in the late 
1970's. 
 
4. (SBU) A short foray into the movie business saw him 
produce five local language movies that did well in the 
box office.  He maintains his ties with the movie 
industry and is the president of the Karnataka Cinema 
Theatre Owners Association.  Kumaraswamy first came into 
the political limelight in 1996, after his father Deve 
Gowda secured a JD(S) constituency for him.  He won the 
Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat in 1996, but lost it two years 
later.  In 1999 he stood for election to the state 
legislature from two constituencies but lost both.  In 
state elections held in 2004, Kumaraswamy contested and 
won the Ramanagaram seat located in a rural district near 
Bangalore.  In the same year he was made working 
President of the JD(S) after being denied a berth in the 
Congress-led state cabinet. 
 
-------------------------------- 
WIFE AND MOTHER HIS TWIN DRIVERS 
-------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Married to Anita, who is known as a driving 
force behind his political career, Kumaraswamy has a son 
Nikhil who is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in 
commerce at Jain College, Bangalore.  Kumaraswamy is 
known to be very close to his mother, Chennamma, whose 
blessings he sought prior to taking office. 
 
---------------------- 
A SKILLFUL MANIPULATOR 
---------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) As working president of the JD(S), Kumaraswamy 
assiduously cultivated members of the Karnataka 
legislature belonging to his party.  Exploiting their 
growing disenchantment with the party's coalition 
arrangement with Congress and their fears of reelection 
failure following his party's poor performance in local 
 
CHENNAI 00000212  002 OF 002 
 
 
body elections, Kumaraswamy led a rebellion of 43 party 
members.  Forming an alliance with the opposition BJP, he 
staged a coup and staked his claim to form the 
government.  (Reftel). 
 
------------------------ 
PARTY OPPOSITION REMAINS 
------------------------ 
 
7. (SBU) The alliance with the BJP, however, has drawn 
considerable flak from the JD(S) party's national 
leadership.  Kumaraswamy's father, Deve Gowda, was forced 
to resign as party president after his son's coup.  With 
the top leadership of JD(S) calling for their expulsion 
from the party, Kumaraswamy and his fellow rebels face 
the prospect of precipitating the dissolution of the 
state legislature. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
KUMARASWAMY WOOS THE KNOWLEDGE INDUSTRY 
--------------------------------------- 
 
8. COMMENT: Generally perceived as being an enemy of 
Bangalore's burgeoning information technology industry in 
favor of a more pro-rural stance, Kumaraswamy has taken 
pains to allay IT industry fears.  In his first press 
conference as Chief Minister, he assured investors and 
industry officials that their concerns about the 
deteriorating state of Bangalore's infrastructure would 
be addressed.  One of his first acts as Chief Minister 
was to call upon the state bureaucracy to come up with a 
status report on pending infrastructure projects in the 
city.  It is not clear whether this expressed concern for 
the IT industry and its infrastructure worries is based 
on conviction or political expediency.  With his 
government precariously placed at the moment, his future 
may depend on whom Bangalore's knowledge industry backs. 
As Mr. Narayanamoorthy, Chief Mentor at Infosys, put it, 
"Its time for a fresh mandate."  END COMMENT 
 
HOPPER 

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