India has been experiencing a sharp rise in sentiments against dynasty politics over past few years. Congress, being the flag bearers of dynasty politics, had invited sharp criticism from citizens over dominance of Gandhi Family in politics for decades. This precedent set by Congress, also seems to be percolating down to regional parties, who have also been operating under similar dynastic political structures. Also facing the heat of this fallout is Ex-PM HD Deve Gowda, patriarch of the ruling JD(S) in Karnataka.
The Karnataka assembly elections in 2018 gave a perfect example of how political greed and compulsions can forge new ‘friendships’. JD(S) with just 37 of the 225 seat Karnataka assembly was able to negotiate its way to the top post of Chief Minister. Staying on course, Deve Gowda was quick to install his family members in high public offices. According to a report in First Post by Ramakrishna Upadhya, Deve Gowda family’s spider web in Karnataka politics is prudently explained.
According to a report, both of Deve Gowda’s sons hold key positions in Karnataka state government, with the younger son HD Kumaraswamy in the position of CM of Karnataka, the elder son HD Revanna heads the powerful PWD department. With his daughter-in-laws also installed in important political positions in, Deve Gowda is scrambling to make space for his grandsons Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna who are now set to make their debut from Mandya and Hassan Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.
However, in a bid to place his grandsons in the political scene, Deve Gowda has been struggling to find favorable seats for himself, after Hassan, a strongly held JD(S) constituency has gone over to his grandson Prajwal. This blatant expansion of political field by Deve Gowda dynasty is neither going down well with the voters nor the Congress cadre in the state who are seeing this expansion as open encroachment. Considering the caste calculations, Deve Gowda is poised to contest form Tumakuru, which has been a traditional strong hold of the Congress. Initially facing resistance from current sitting MP of Tumakuru, Congress’ SP Muddahanumegowda, after intervention from Rahul Gandhi, Muddahanumegowda had agreed to accommodate the JD(S) patriarch. Nonetheless the Congress’ ground cadre still seems to be disgruntled.
However, JD(S) problems are not just limited to Tumakuru, but also set to permeate in other constituencies where JD(S) has been seeing resistance from voters over expansion of their dynastical arms. These desperate attempts by Deve Gowda to spread his family’s influence even at the cost of upsetting the alliance partners, only points towards his deep ingrained dynastic mindset. These attempts have also been alienating JD(S) voters away, which also seem to be opposed to this blatant expansion.
Hassan, which has traditionally been a very strong seat for JD(S), with Deve Gowda himself being a 5 time MP, is also indicating towards a close competition with the scales just tilted away against Prajwal Revanna. Just banking on his grandfather’s legacy, Prajwal Revanna is facing tough competition from BJP’s candidate, Manju, who is taking steam from the anti-dynastic sentiment and is poised to sway the results in his favor.
“Now that Deve Gowda is not contesting this time, I’m confident that I will get more than 50 percent of the Vokkaliga votes, besides the Lingayat, the Dalit and the OBC votes…I see the Modi wave stronger than last time, and I’m confident of winning “Manju said.
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