Poll factory strengthens dynastic politics in Karnataka

The then chief ministers D Devaraj Urs and Ramakrishna Hegde had groomed a second line of leaders, including Sddaramaiah, who went on to become chief ministers and ministers later in their political careers.
Mysuru-Kodagu BJP Lok Sabha candidate Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar waves at the crowd during a rally in Mysuru on Saturday
Mysuru-Kodagu BJP Lok Sabha candidate Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar waves at the crowd during a rally in Mysuru on SaturdayPhoto | Udayashankar S, EPS

MYSURU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive narrative against dynasty politics in Congress and regional parties has no relevance in Karnataka as all the three leading political parties, including BJP, are saddled with political dynasties. It has been a long-held convention that if a sitting member passes away, his or her family member is given the ticket in the by-election. But now, without exception, dynasty politics is well entrenched and parties are not keeping up the morale of ordinary cadres by fielding grass roots workers. Though Congress and BJP have fielded a few workers in a couple of seats, 24 candidates in this Lok Sabha election are from political families.

Congress tops the list with 16 candidates as even AICC president Mallkarjun Kharge’s son-in-law Radhakrishna has got a ticket to contest from Kalaburagi, while his son Priyank is a minister in the Siddaramaiah government. Six sitting ministers and a former minister have managed to get tickets to their children, wife, sons, daughters, son-inlaw, daughter-in-law, grandson and brothers.

DK Suresh, brother of Deputy Chief Minister DK Shiva Kumar, contesting from Bengaluru Rural, Sunil Bose from Chamarajanagar, Priyanka Jarkiholi from Chikkodi, Prabha Mallikarjun from Davanagere, Sagar Khandre from Bidar, Shrayas Patel from Hassan, Raksha Ramaiah from Chikkaballapur, Samyuktha Patil from Bagalkot, Mansur Ali Khan from Bengaluru Central, Soumya Reddy from Bengaluru South, Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar from Belagavi, Geetha Shivarajkumar from Shivamogga are all from politically influential families.

In BJP, former chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra is contesting from Shivamogga, former chief minister SR Bommai’s son and former CM Basavaraj Bommai from Haveri, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar -- heir of Srikanatadutta Narashimaraja Wadiyar -- from Mysuru-Kodagu, Gayathri Siddeshwara -- wife of sitting MP Siddeshwara -- from Davanagere and Annasaheb Shankar Jolle from Chikkodi too have family political lineages. Other than them, party leaders who have already served in various capacities for many years, including Jagadish Shettar, Srinivasa Poojary, K Sudhakar, B Sriramulu and others, have been picked, instead of giving tickets to the party’s young blood.

From JDS, two of the three seats allocated to it as part of the alliance with BJP have gone to the family members of party supremo HD Deve Gowda. While his grandson Prajwal Revanna is contesting from Hassan, his son and party state president HD Kumaraswamy is running from Mandya. His son-in- law Dr CN Manjunath, former director of Jayadeva Hospital, is contesting on a BJP ticket from Bengaluru Rural.

The then chief ministers D Devaraj Urs and Ramakrishna Hegde had groomed a second line of leaders, including Sddaramaiah, who went on to become chief ministers and ministers later in their political careers. Prof VK Natraj, former director of Madras Institute of Development Studies, said Karnataka had taken a step in the right direction in the 1970s by bringing all sections of society into electoral politics. But that trend is regressing now.

Dynasty politics is for self-protection and it is not a good sign. It is unfortunate that both Congress and BJP are following family politics of JDS, he commented. Asked about Congress accommodating candidates from political families, Siddaramaiah said winnability is the basic criterion in selecting the candidates. Shivakumar opined that the leaders nowadays are being groomed in families. The party took everyone on board before announcing the tickets and ordinary party workers too have been chosen in Mysuru, Kolar and other places, he added.

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