Bangalore: The Karnataka Assembly elections could well become the launch pad for many a political heir being coached by their parents who are laying the foundation for the next generation.
While there is nothing unusual in the next generation of top political families stepping into the domain, their sheer number has raised eyebrows this time.
A Congress source said the entry of Priyank Kharge, son of leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, into politics in 2013 and his performance as a minister appear to have influenced many young leaders making a beeline for party tickets.
April 24 being the last date for filing nominations, there is a considerable rush among young leaders, mostly from the ruling Congress.
Only Harsha Moily, son of Congress MP Veerappa Moily, seems to be out of the race as of now. An embarrassing tweet on the page of both father and son seemed to have affected the senior Moily’s ambitious plans of launching his son this election season.
The March 15 tweet that seems to have spoilt Harsha’s chances read thus: “INC needs to solve money in politics. We can’t afford to have road contractors and their nexus with the state PWD minister determine how candidates are selected for the upcoming assembly elections.”
While the senior Moily immediately distanced himself from the tweet and blamed the person assigned to handle his social media accounts, Harsha seemed to have taken his own time in deleting the message later that afternoon.
State Congress president G. Parameshwar recently said that at least 25 ticket-seekers were either children or relatives of party leaders.
Of them, chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra is almost certain to contest from his father’s Varuna constituency. Siddaramaiah has expressed his desire to enter the fray from Chamundeshwari, also in Mysore.
A doctor, Yathindra took the plunge into politics after his elder brother Rakesh’s untimely death in 2016.
Yathindra is set for a face-off against another scion B.Y. Vijayendra, son of state BJP president and former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Congress vice-president K.E. Radhakrishna said 14 political families were seeking tickets for one new member each. This is besides five sitting MLAs who are sons of top leaders like Kharge.
Radhakrishna didn’t see anything unusual in this kind of numbers.
Sowmya Reddy, daughter of home minister Ramalinga Reddy; Sunil Bose, son of PWD minister H.C. Mahadevappa; and Santosh Jayachandra, son of law minister T.B. Jayachandra, are among the ministers’ children who are probables.
“None of the names are final as we will wait for the high command’s clearance,” Radhakrishna said, adding that the candidates’ list was likely to be announced by April 13.
A Congress office-bearer who cannot be named said the party would field only one or two newcomers.
Political analyst Mahadev Prakash has never seen this kind of a surge in the demand for party tickets for family members.
“Karnataka is one state that has always had leaders pitching for their children or relatives. But even I am surprised to see so many aspirants this time,” said Prakash, a staunch critic of dynastic politics.
“I think about 60 of the 224 seats would be contested by leaders’ kin this time,” he added.
Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal Secular leader H.D. Deve Gowda recently announced the entry of his grandchildren Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy into politics. Their fathers are also politicians.
A senior BJP leader who has been sidelined by the leadership said: “He who doesn’t pitch for his kin will end up like me.”
A former member of the Legislative Assembly (upper House), the leader from the pre-Narendra Modi era admitted that dynastic politics was a reality.
“When children of doctors, engineers or lawyers can follow in the footsteps of their parents, why not politicians? There are very few leaders who don’t allow family members to enter politics,” he said.