Karnataka elections turn a family affair
Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has finally made peace with one of the key principles that defined his political career since the 1980s—no family in politics.
Siddaramaiah left the Janata Dal (Secular) after his mentor-turned-rival H. D. Deve Gowda favoured his son (H. D. Kumaraswamy) over him and joined the Congress in 2006.
The “no family” principle now stands compromised as his son, Yathindra Siddaramaiah, is contesting the Karnataka elections from Varuna (Mysuru), a constituency from where the chief minister has won two successive elections.
Though most parties have claimed winnability as the main criterion for ticket distribution, tickets to family members of leaders are considered an entitlement that few oppose openly. In fact, workers are almost trained to quell any dissenters or challengers to a leader and his legacy.
Siddaramaiah is not alone in securing a political future for his son in the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president B.S. Yeddyurappa’s second son (B.Y. Vijayendra) is also expected to make his debut while both sons of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda are in the fray again.
“I think family politics becomes bad only when you start trampling other deserving candidates and promote your own family at the cost of others. This is not the case here. This isn’t family politics,” Yathindra said. He added that his older brother, if alive, would have been the candidate from Varuna. In other words, family members have first claim.
A. Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University, Bengaluru says that there is no precedent in Karnataka of a sitting chief minister and his son contesting from neighbouring constituencies.
And in the hurry to ‘settle’ his son’s future, Siddaramaiah seems to have staked his and the Congress party’s chances, Narayana added, referring to the chief minister’s decision of leaving Varuna for JD(S)-dominated Chamundeshwari.
Karnataka, among other states, has a long tradition of naming children, among other relatives, as successors. State IT minister Priyank Kharge (son of Congress heavyweight Mallikarjun Kharge), a first time legislator in 2013, was made minister by sidelining seniors and later promoted to cabinet rank. Deve Gowda has named his grandson as his successor to the Lok Sabha from Hassan in next year’s polls.
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