Children of ministers add excitement to Karnataka LS elections


PTI, Apr 11, 2024, 10:04 AM IST

With six children of Karnataka Ministers in the Lok Sabha poll arena, the campaign scene is getting spiced up in the high-stakes elections for the ruling Congress in the state. Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Minister S S Mallikarjun, is also in the poll fray.

The grand old party tried its best to make several ministers enter the Lok Sabha election fray but none of them agreed and, instead, they proposed the candidature of their family members.

”Now, deliver” is the stern message of the Congress leadership to the ministers, putting the onus on them to ensure the victory of their kin, according to party sources.

The Congress secured only one seat in Karnataka in the 2019 general elections, and has now set an ambitious target of winning in 15 to 20 constituencies in the coming polls.

Elections in 28 constituencies in the State will be held in two phases on April 26 and May 7.

Sons of Laxmi Hebbalkar, Eshwar Khandre and H C Mahadevappa — Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar, Sagar Khandre and Sunil Bose — have been fielded from Belagavi (Belgaum), Bidar and Chamarajanagar, respectively.

Daughters of Satish Jarkiholi, Shivanand Patil and Ramalinga Reddy — Priyanka Jarkiholi, Samyukta Patil and Sowmya Reddy — are in contention in Chikkodi, Bagalkot and Bangalore South respectively.

Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Minister S S Mallikarjun and daughter-in-law of veteran party leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, is the party’s nominee from Davangere.

”In this ‘do or die’ situation, the ministers have found the Lok Sabha election a launch pad for their children and relatives. We have to see how these ministers succeed in their mission,” a Congress insider said.

Barring Sowmya Reddy, who is a former MLA, none of them have any legislative experience in elections.

Stakes are high for some other ministers as well.

The party has fielded Radhakrishna Doddamani, son-in-law of Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge in the family’s home turf of Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), a seat held by the BJP.

Kharge’s son and Minister Priyank Kharge has taken charge of spearheading the campaign in this segment, where his father had lost in the 2019 general elections.

”Priyank has taken this election as a prestige issue given the fact that the Congress president hails from here and had represented this constituency in the past in the Lok Sabha,” a Congress leader said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month launched the BJP’s formal campaign in Kalaburagi in what was seen as an aggressive message to the Congress.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and State Congress chief D K Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh is seeking reelection in Bangalore Rural, where the BJP and JD(S) have fielded noted cardiologist and son-in-law of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

The Congress which came to power in the state in May last year is seeking to ride on its five guarantee schemes of the government.

Sowmya Reddy, who is contesting from Bangalore South asked the women voters during a recent roadshow – ”Do you travel in the buses? Which places have you visited in the recent past? Do you pay or travel for free?”.

She was referring to ‘Shakti’ guarantee that offers free rides to Karnataka women in non-luxury government buses within the state.

Reddy explained to the people about the four other guarantees — ‘Gruha Lakshmi’, ‘Gruha Jyoti’, ‘Yuva Nidhi’ and ‘Anna Bhagya’.

”Who brought ‘Achchhe Din’? Is it Congress or the BJP? Which ‘Achchhe Din’ you will vote for?” Reddy asked the women voters.

In Belagavi, Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar, is taking on BJP candidate and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.

In campaign meetings, Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar reminded the crowd how Shettar had joined Congress when the BJP denied him a ticket in the 2023 Assembly election, only to return to the saffron party a few months later.

”Shettar is from Hubballi and we are from Belagavi. We know the problems prevailing here better than any ‘outsider’. Today, BJP people are saying that they vote for Shettar keeping Prime Minister Narendra Modi in mind, but I want to know why he joined Congress and abused the BJP, Modi and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa,” the minister asked.

The BJP swept the 2019 general elections in Karnataka winning 25 out of the 28 seats, while an independent backed by the party also won. The Congress and JD(S) which fought the elections together, secured one seat each.

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