Deve Gowda’s grandson set to join list of ‘political heirs’
Bengaluru: Assembly elections in Karnataka, due next year, could see the Janata Dal (Secular), or JDS field Prajwal Revanna, a third generation politician from the influential Gowda family that began with former prime minister and Karnataka chief minister H.D. Deve Gowda in the early 1960s.
He is Deve Gowda’s grandson and former minister H.D.Revanna’s son.
Karnataka has a long line of ‘political heirs’—part of succession plans to hold on to office or a constituency—and next year’s election is expected to be no different.
News of Prajwal Revanna comes at a time when Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress president seems inevitable, in the latest examples of dynasties flourishing in the world’s largest democracy.
Chandan Gowda, political analyst and professor of sociology at the Azim Premji University says that political succession by kin is seen as the norm.
The state legislature has at least six legislators who are children of former chief ministers. This includes former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, another son of Deve Gowda.
The party maintains that Prajwal Revanna has only been elevated within the party (he was appointed general secretary last Monday), and this does not necessarily mean that he will contest next year’s elections. However, his grandfather has the final say in the matter, according to senior leader of the JDS.
Prajwal Revanna could not be reached for comment.
Currently, Deve Gowda’s two sons— H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna— are active in state politics while Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of Kumaraswamy, is also a former legislator.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, who lost at least one chance of becoming chief minister due to family politics and was forced to join another party, will field his son Yathindra Siddaramaiah from his constituency. This, despite the Congress in the state pressing for a rule where one family will get only one ticket. Former chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa’s son is a former MP and present MLA.
“It’s a trend in all parties. But personally I am against the entry of family members into politics while one is still active in public life. It doesn’t help in forming good public opinion,” a senior JDS leader said, requesting anonymity.
Though Deve Gowda has maintained that only his two sons will be contesting next year’s elections, many within the party think Kumaraswamy’s wife Anita Kumaraswamy and now Prajwal Revanna will also contest in 2018.
Former chief minister S.Bangrappa’s two sons have fought against each other for the same constituency (Sorab) while incumbent housing minister M.Krishnappa and his son are legislators from neighbouring constituencies in Bengaluru. Senior Congress leader and member of Parliament Mallikarjuna Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge was made minister in his first stint as legislator, a chance denied to many seniors in the party.
A smooth entry or even a ticket don’t ensure success, Chandan Gowda says. Children or relatives of former chief ministers like Devraj Urs, Veerappa Moily and J.H. Patel have tasted failure and many have even lost out on their home constituencies.
“If he/she is not made for the job, the constituency will reject him. It’s not as if the constituency will keep going along regardless of the character of the person,” Chandan Gowda says. He adds that leaders are able to push their children into the front because voters themselves do not see it as unnatural.
The situation is unlikely to change as at least a few dozen leaders are already lobbying to secure tickets for their children heading into polls next year.