There seems to be a conundrum within the JD(S) and its ‘first family’ led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda over selection of the party candidate to Hassan assembly segment for the upcoming Karnataka polls. The seat is turning out to be a major bone of contention, as Gowda’s daughter-in-law Bhavani Revanna, who had thrown her hat in the ring, has not relented, despite JD(S) legislature party leader and her brother-in-law H D Kumaraswamy making it clear that she will not be fielded.
Bhavani Revanna, a former Hassan zilla panchayat member, is the wife of Kumaraswamy’s elder brother and former minister H D Revanna. Two days after Bhavani Revanna publicly claimed that her name had been finalised by the party for the Hassan seat and a formal announcement will be made soon, Kumaraswamy on January 25 said her contest was not necessary there (in the constituency) as the party has a capable candidate.
JD(S), which has already announced a list of 93 candidates for the assembly polls due by May, is yet to finalise one for Hassan constituency. Hassan is the home district of Deve Gowda and the party in 2018 assembly polls had won in six out of seven segments other than the Hassan seat, which BJP’s Preetham Gowda secured, making it the first ever win for the saffron party in the Vokkaliga-dominated district. Despite Kumaraswamy’s statement, according to party sources, Bhavani Revanna has not backed down and continued her tour in the constituency as she took part in a temple event on Friday.
READ | ‘JD(S) has decided to field me from Hassan constituency’: Deve Gowda’s daughter-in-law
Some sources even said the Hassan candidate issue has now reached JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda, who will now have the final say on the matter. Bhavani’s husband H D Revanna’s conspicuous silence on the developments has led to some amount of speculation about the predicament within the Gowda family on the issue. Though Revanna’s elder son and Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna had, soon after his mother’s claim to be the candidate, maintained that Deve Gowda will decide and everyone will abide by it, he hasn’t reacted after Kumaraswamy’s statement that she will not be the candidate.
When reporters tried to speak to her after the temple event, Bhavani Revanna said she did not wish to give any reaction for now. “Let whoever say anything, I will not react… I will not speak politics, I have come here for worship… I don’t know much about the developments as of now. Let’s see in the days to come,” she said.
When a question was put to her that people had a desire that she should contest from the seat, Bhavani said: “Let’s see in the future how the god’s and everyone’s grace will be… Let’s see, I will speak in the future.” As she served food to people who attended the temple event, announcements were made on the loudspeaker calling her “Next MLA Bhavani Amma”.
Kumaraswamy on Thursday and Friday too reiterated his stand making it clear that when there is a “capable” candidate in a constituency, there is no question of imposing someone from the Gowda family. “Why are you (media) in a confusion on this, I have already said…our family members will contest where we don’t have a capable candidate, to protect the interest of our workers. Where there are suitable candidates, such a need won’t be there. If such a situation comes, I will tell you,” he told reporters on Friday.
Stating that he has said what he had to regarding the Hassan ticket issue and that the rest will sit in the family and decide within the party framework, Kumaraswamy said, “Ultimately Deve Gowda is the one who issues the B-form for the candidate. There is a parliamentary board and there are leaders,” he said, rejecting any misunderstanding or conflict within the family.
“Everything will be resolved smoothly,” he added. H P Swaroop, a former Hassan zilla panchayat vice-president and son of former MLA late H S Prakash, is said to be the “capable candidate”, whom Kumaraswamy is keen to field. Swaroop too has been visiting villages along with his supporters.
Stating that he is trying to get a ticket from JD(S), Swaroop earlier this week said “there seems to be confusion among people and workers following this announcement by Bhavani Revanna, but I’m saying let the ticket be officially declared…” He said that he has high regards for Deve Gowda and Revanna, and there is no question of him looking at an option of going to another party. Meanwhile, taking a dig at the JD(S) on the whole issue, BJP national general secretary C T Ravi mockingly said he has a desire to invite Bhavani Revanna to contest from Holenarasipur (her husband Revanna’s seat) on the party’s ticket.
READ | Kumaraswamy indicates Bhavani Revanna may not be fielded from Hassan
“I have seen Bhavani Revanna’s statement, also Kumaraswamy’s. I don’t want to create a rift within the family, or else I had a desire to tell Bhavani akka (elder sister) that there is no better candidate than her for Holenarasipur and become a candidate for the seat from our party. But I don’t want to create a fight between Revanna and Bhavani akka, so I won’t say anything,” he said.
Asked about C T Ravi’s statement, Bhavani Revanna said, “You (media) should ask him, I don’t know about it…” Kumaraswamy, in response to Ravi’s statement, said the BJP is “used to dividing the house”. “They are someone who divide the country. Won’t they look for dividing a house? But they won’t be able to divide Deve Gowda’s house, they might be thinking they can, but it is not possible. They cannot divide us,” the former chief minister said. Some political observers are of the opinion that the perception about JD(S) being too family centric is one of its major drawbacks.
According to JD(S) sources, Kumaraswamy wants to beat this perception. It is with this intention that he had tried to justify his earlier decisions to give ticket to his wife Anitha Kumaraswamy to contest polls in 2008, 2013 and 2018 by citing lack of suitable candidate, party pride and demand by workers as the reason for her contesting the seat, while denying the same for Bhavani. However, he has already announced his son Nikhil Kumaraswamy as the candidate from Ramanagara for the assembly polls.
Eight members of Gowda’s immediate family are in active politics. Gowda, who is the JD(S) supremo, is also Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, while his son Kumaraswamy is a former chief minister and sitting MLA from Channapatna. Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha is MLA from Ramanagara segment, and his son Nikhil, who is the JD(S) youth wing president, had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Mandya.
The party supremo’s elder son H D Revanna is a former minister and current MLA from Holenarsipura, his wife Bhavani Revanna was a member of the Hassan Zilla Panchayat, and their sons Prajwal and Suraj are MP from Hassan and an MLC, respectively. The Gowda family has its representation in all the four major houses of public representatives – Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.