The frame of controversy

Pictures of Kannada actress Radhika with HD Kumaraswamy and their child, Shamika, have appeared in the media.
JD(S) President and former Chief Minister of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy with actress Radhika and their daughter Shamika.
JD(S) President and former Chief Minister of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy with actress Radhika and their daughter Shamika.

Politics and tinseltown have for long been a happy mix in Karnataka. That former chief minister and MP HD Kumaraswamy had some sort of a relationship with Kannada actress Radhika for the past four years has been an open secret that bothered nobody. That equilibrium was, however, recently disturbed when a few pictures of the couple with their one-and-a-half-year old daughter Shamika K Swamy were released to some mediapersons, allegedly by the actress herself to legitimise her claim.

Karnataka’s first family—from Kumaraswamy’s father and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda to wife Anita—has since swung all the way from feigned ignorance to deep embarrassment. There have been no comments, with Kumaraswamy refusing to answer direct questions.

Such a pointed, public revelation had been coming. Last November, Radhika was bold enough to announce that she was happily married to a politician and from whom she had a daughter named Shamika K Swamy, leaving no one in doubt about who she was talking about. Since then, she remained offlimits to the media.

Sources close to Kumaraswamy say that all is not well between the actress and him. His followers in the party assert that the release of photographs was nothing but an attempt by Radhika to claim legality and assert her status in society as ‘insurance’ against something going wrong in future.

The pictures featuring Radhika and Kumaraswamy have taken the steam out of the JD(S) campaign against the alleged corruption of Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa.

Kumaraswamy tried hard to topple the BJP government last year and himself spearheaded the campaign to oust Yeddyurappa over corruption charges.

A section of the JD(S) leaders see a smear campaign behind the release of the photographs. According to them, it has been orchestrated to malign the JD(S) president’s image and force him on to the backfoot. A few senior leaders, however, fear that the pictures could dent the image of the former chief minister.

Says a Kumaraswamy confidant: “It’s a private matter and better if left to themselves to solve. Even former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had extramarital affairs, but it never affected or influenced his political decisions.”

Congress and BJP leaders, however, refused comment on the issue.

Repeated efforts to contact Kumaraswamy and Radhika failed.

The JD(S) leader’s secretary said that the former chief minister did not want to comment on the pictures or his association with Radhika. His wife Anita was not available for comment either.

Kumaraswamy was first seen in the company of Radhika four years ago. There were media reports about their holiday in Mauritius and various hill stations in Karnataka. Interestingly, they neither denied nor confirmed these reports.

Kumaraswamy is not new to the Kannada film industry. Prior to entering politics, he owned a theatre in his home district in Hassan besides being a distributor of multilingual films and a producer of Kannada films. Radhika is said to have met Kumaraswamy after he became an MLA for the first time in 2004.

He emerged as one of the most influential politicians in the Congress- JD(S) coalition government headed by Dharam Singh. The bond between the two is said to have blossomed after he became the chief minister by forging an alliance with the BJP in 2006.

Mangalorean Radhika forayed into films at a very young age through 'Neela Mega Shama' and introduced herself as a school student to the media during the mahurat of the movie in 2002. She has acted in nearly 30 movies, including blockbusters 'Ninagaagi', 'Tavarige Baa Thangi', 'Mandya', 'Anna Thangi', 'Preetigaagi', 'Prem Khaidi', opposite leading stars of Sandalwood. The glamour doll never hesitated to show skin and appeared in bold scenes in Dayalu-directed 'Masale', making her one of the hot actresses between 2002 and 2005 before announcing her premature retirement.

Her last released movie was 'Anaatharu', opposite Upendra and Darshan, while 'Eshwar' is yet to hit the silver screen.

Controversy and Radhika have never been inseparable. She was married before she entered films and her husband, Ratan Kumar, allegedly committed suicide in 2002.

She shocked the film industry when she became an unwed mother last year. Recently, she announced her return to the film industry by announcing a Kannada project 'Bangalore 79', which she is producing.

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The New Indian Express