Family saga: The Karnataka dynasty of Gowda and sons turns grand

Janata Dal (Secular), HD Deve Gowda, HD Kumaraswamy, Nikhil, Datta, Jagan Mohan Reddy
Former Prime Minister and JD-S leader Deve Gowda. File Photo/PTI

Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch HD Deve Gowda may soon enjoy the luxury of seeing the second generation of his family preparing to enter electoral politics, especially when the general elections are just around the corner.

Gowda’s younger son HD Kumaraswamy is currently the Chief Minister of Karnataka while his elder son HD Revanna is the state PWD minister. Both have been in politics for around two decades, thanks to Gowda’s political clout and the bonding with his family.

Dream come true

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Now, it is the turn of Revanna’s son Prajwal and Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil to make their entry in Karnataka politics and, if they win, go headlong into national politics. Both their mothers, Bhavani and Anitha, are already in politics. While Revanna’s wife Bhavani is a zilla panchayat member in Hassan, Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha is a sitting JD(S) MLA from Ramanagara constituency.

For Gowda, who has been in active politics since the early 1960s and held office both as Karnataka’s Chief Minister (from 1994 to 1996) and the country’s Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997, seeing his successors join politics is possibly a dream come true.

The Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka is having a dream run. Despite being the party with the least number of assembly seats (38 out of 224), not only does it get chief ministership along with plum ministerial portfolios in alliance with the Congress, but is also poised to get its candidates nominated in at least 10 of the 28 parliamentary seats for the upcoming elections as part of seat-sharing with the Congress.

The time is now

The BJP, which won 104 seats, in the May 2018 assembly elections fell short of the majority by nine seats. The previous ruling party Congress with 78 seats, in a dramatic move, seized the opportunity and tied up with the JD(S) to form the government, leaving the BJP in the opposition. Since then the JD(S) has made the most of the situation with advice from the elderly Gowda. In the reckoning of the family, there cannot be a better opportunity than now to introduce its next generation into electoral politics. If one goes by poll arithmetic, the combination of JD(S) and Congress is expected to sweep the elections in Karnataka. And, the grandsons can saunter home without much sweat.

The nitty-gritty of the arrangement is the subject of much speculation. Some reports say that the 85-year-old Gowda (who is also a sitting MP) will make way for Prajwal in Hassan, and Mysore may go to Nikhil. This would mean that the veteran of over a dozen electoral battles will hang up his boots and walk into the sunset.

Considering Gowda’s legendary obsession with electoral politics, this is a bit hard to swallow. If it does indeed happen it could be either in concession to his advancing age or to manage peace in the family. Already there are reports of tensions between the cousins Nikhil and Prajwal who possibly see each other as rivals. Both have been dabbling in entry-level politics for a few years now. Nikhil is also an actor and has been in the lead in at least three films, the latest of which is the upcoming “Kurukshetra”, not a big surprise since his chief minister-father is also a movie producer.

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