Son Syndrome Evident in LS Polls in Karnataka

Call it "son stroke" or a generational shift in Karnataka politics; it is all evident in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

A few old guards are paving the way for their sons to take over. The sons are steering talks, chalking out campaign strategies and setting sights on millions of young voters.

Prashant Deshpande and S S Mallikarjun, sons of Higher Education Minister R V Deshpande and Horticulture Minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa respectively, are making a bid to inherit their fathers' legacy.

Others like Mahima Patel, son of former Chief Minister late J H Patel, and Geeta Shivarajkumar, daughter of another former CM late S Bangarappa, are keen on realising the unfulfilled dreams of their fathers.

Prashant and Mallikarjun have for long been involved in party affairs, but are making sincere efforts to step out of their fathers' shoes to try their luck in Lok Sabha polls.

Geeta Shivarajkumar, wife of noted Kannada actor Shivarajkumar, son of Kannada thespian late Rajkumar, though a political novice and married into the family that always shunned politics, has plunged into the electoral fray from Shimoga. Rajkumar had always scrupulously avoided politics.

Geetha is pitted against former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who is seeking to make his Parliamentary debut.

Prashant, who is taking on BJP's sitting MP Ananthkumar Hegde in Uttara Kannada constituency, has been involved in party and social activities in his home district and serves as trustee of the R V Deshpande Memorial Trust, which runs several non-profit institutions across the state.

Prashant, the 36-year-old who did his post-graduation from Harvard Law School and BA from National Law school of India University here, is yet to muster enough strength to counter BJP's Hegde, who had defeated Congress' Margaret Alva, now Rajasthan Governor, by 22,769 votes in the 2009 elections.

Congress' Mallikarjun, who was not nominated in the last assembly elections, is no novice in political affairs in his home district Davanagere. He has the credit of making efforts to build the party's presence in Davanagere and Chitradurga.

Mallikarjun, who was minister in S M Krishna's Cabinet, was instrumental in Congress’ win in the recent polls to Davangere City Corporation council, where it bagged 38 of 41 seats.

He is locked in a triangular contest with JDS' Mahima Patel and sitting BJP MP M G Siddeshwar, seeking a third term.

Davangere LS constituency, which came into being in 1977, was once a stronghold of Congress, whose MPs represented it continuously for 21 years from 1977 to 1996. The first sign of yielding ground was seen when the BJP candidate lost by a narrow margin of 455 votes in 1991.

Since 1996, BJP has had an upper hand here. Congress won in the 1998 election but BJP wrested it back in the next poll and has held on to it until now.

The coming Lok Sabha election also has left a few unhappy fathers as they failed to get tickets for their sons in spite of lobbying hard in New Delhi.

Among the disappointed lot are leaders from both Congress and BJP, but the denial of tickets to their sons has not caused any major worries for them.

Oil Minister Veeerappa Moily and senior Congress leader Margaret Alva were optimistic of getting tickets for their sons - Harsha Moily and Nivedith Alva, respectively, but failed in their endeavour.

Nivedith lost the race to contest for Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha seat as the High Command plumped for Prashant Deshpande.

Also Moily, who lobbied hard for Harsha's candidature from Mangalore, received a setback after Congress warhorse Janardhan Poojary won the primary elections.

T B Jayachandra, another Karnataka Minister, also tried hard with the party's top brass in Delhi to get a ticket to his son Santosh Jayachandra for Tumkur seat, but the party willed otherwise, giving it to former judicial magistrate S P Muddahanume Gowda.

In Belgaum, Sugar Minister Prakash Hukkeri was keen on his son Ganesh Hukkeri being given a ticket from Hukkeri, but could not cut ice with Congress leadership, which asked him only to take the plunge.

Amit Kore, son of BJP Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore, also tried his luck to contest elections on a Congress ticket, but failed.

BJP was keen on fielding former minister and its state senior leader Gurupadappa Nagmarpalli from Bidar, but gave the ticket to Bhagvant Kooba, after it rejected Nagmarpalli's request to field his son Suryakanth Nagmarpalli, which also led to his supporters ransacking the local BJP office.

JDS, often derided by its rivals as "father-sons party", decided to field former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, to take on Moily from Chikkaballapur. Gowda is seeking re-election from Hassan in his home district.

Former minister S T Jayaram's son Ashok was eyeing Mandya, but Gowda gave the ticket to C S Puttaraju, a Vokkaliga leader.
 

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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