Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the actor son of Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, on Monday confirmed his candidature from the Mandya parliamentary seat for the upcoming general elections. With the move, Kumaraswamy hopes to retain the balance of power within the H.D. Deve Gowda household, which has witnessed a power struggle between the two sons of the former Prime Minister.
Nikhil, 31, who goes by the screen name of ‘Nikhil Kumar’, announced his entry into electoral politics a couple of months after Gowda confirmed that Prajwal Revanna, 28, his grandson and the son of public works department (PWD) minister H.D. Revanna, would contest from the Hassan constituency, the bastion of the Janata Dal (Secular).
“As a dedicated worker of the party, I will fulfil the duty he (Gowda) has given me," Nikhil said on Monday in Dharmasthala, a temple town in coastal Karnataka, about 300km from Bengaluru.
The statement comes a day after Gowda said that Nikhil has his blessings to contest from the Mandya seat, about 95 kms from Bengaluru, and known as the ‘sugar city’ of Karnataka.
Though Nikhil had focussed on his acting career, the rise of Prajwal in the party had prompted Kumaraswamy to field his son, fearing that his brother’s son could be seen as the legitimate political heir to Deve Gowda’s legacy within the JD(S). Prajwal, however, has been more active in the JD(S) circles.
The entry of Prajwal and Nikhil also heralded the entry of the third generation of politicians from the Gowda household, which has fought hard to shed its image as a ‘family run’ party.
Nikhil has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, while Prajwal is a mechanical engineer.
The JD(S) leadership hopes that the decision to field the cousins from its strongholds—Mandya and Hassan—will make it electorally easy for both. But the pre-poll alliance with the Congress and the friction between the grass roots workers of the two parties may make life a little harder for the two scions.
The Congress and JD(S), who have fought bitter battles across south Karnataka, are hoping that the alliance can bring together warring workers, who can barely see eye-to-eye.
In response to the announcement by JD(S), the Congress on Monday said there were “many aspirants" for these seats from both parties, but insisted that no decision had been taken on seat sharing yet. The Congress’ stand indicates that it is still trying to resist giving up the two seats for JD(S). The two parties are expected to conclude the seat sharing talks within a week.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is hopeful that workers miffed with the state-level alliance are likely to move to the saffron outfit, which has little or no presence in south Karnataka.