Former Karnataka chief minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday hit incumbent H.D. Kumaraswamy where it hurts most by hinting that Kumaraswamy’s brother, H.D. Revanna, was a better candidate for the chief minister’s post.
Siddaramaiah’s comment comes amid an intense family feud between the two sons of former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), chief H.D. Deve Gowda, over who would be the successor to his political legacy.
“H.D. Kumaraswamy is correct. Mallikarjun Kharge is not just capable of becoming chief minister, but fit to hold higher office. There are many capable candidates within the Congress and JD(S), and H.D. Revanna is one of them. Everything will fall in place when the time is right," Siddaramaiah said in a Twitter post in Kannada.
Siddaramaiah’s comments have added fuel to the ongoing battle for dominance within the Gowda household. Revanna and Kumaraswamy have been involved in a slugfest to take control of the JD(S) and had fielded their sons for the Lok Sabha elections from family strongholds in Karnataka.
Kumaraswamy fielded his actor son Nikhil from Mandya to counter the political debut of Prajwal Revanna. Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha, too, is a legislator from Ramanagaram, which was represented by her husband for many terms.
The opportunity, however, was provided by Kumaraswamy on Wednesday, when he referred to the injustice meted out to veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge “as he was not made the chief minister".
On Thursday, Kumaraswamy was quick to respond to Siddaramaiah’s jibe: “Using my statement to score political points is not the kind of low level politics we seeks to benefit from. We shouldn’t forget that Kharge is a great person whose influence is beyond party and caste," he tweeted later in the day.
Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy share a very bitter relationship, especially after the Congress and JD(S) formed an alliance in May 2018 to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power in the state.
The BJP expects the Congress-JD(S) alliance to split after the Lok Sabha election results are announced on 23 May, considering the continuous bickering that is going on between the leaders and workers of both parties. The spat between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy could also hamper the coalition’s chances in the upcoming Kundgol and Chincholi assembly bypolls on 19 May.