The future of two important next-generation leaders of the Janata Dal (Secular) appears to be on uncertain ground. While JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy announced earlier this week that he had advised his son Nikhil to “stay away from politics” for at least five years and concentrate on his movie career, the Karnataka High Court on Friday declared as null and void the election of JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna but refused to declare one of the petitioners the “returned candidate”. Prajwal is the son of H D Revanna who is Kumaraswamy’s elder brother.
A single-judge Bench of Justice K Natarajan on Friday partially allowed two petitions — one filed by a voter from Hassan constituency and the second by A Manju who lost the Lok Sabha to Revanna in 2019. The petitions levelled allegations of election malpractice as well as accusations of “improper declaration of assets” against Revanna. Justice Natarajan declared the election of Revanna null and void but refused to declare Manju the “returned candidate” saying he was also involved in “corrupt practices”. The Bench also directed the Election Commission to issue a notice to H D Revanna and Suraj Revanna, who is Prajwal’s brother, as they had also been accused of “corrupt practices”. The court also asked the poll body to issue a notice to Manju for his “involvement in corrupt practices”.
A bend in the road
Though Nikhil claimed that the decision was just a bend in the road of his political career and not the end, JD(S) leaders said it was essential to shed the “family party” image that has provided JD(S) rivals with opportunities to target it.
Kumaraswamy said his son had been fielded in previous elections because of pressure from party workers. “During the Mandya elections, I had asked him not to contest. He was also not keen.” Nikhil lost both the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Mandya and the Assembly elections this year from Ramanagar. But the former Chief Minister claimed these defeats were not why Nikhil was moving away from politics. He said both he and his father H D Deve Gowda, a former prime minister, had lost elections and wins and defeats were common in politics. “We have to respect public opinion. I don’t make decisions based on (external) pressure. I have to make a decision based on public opinion.”
With the political circles in the state speculating if the decision to give Nikhil a break from politics was taken as a third electoral defeat would mark the end of his career — he was appointed JD(S) youth president ahead of the Assembly polls but resigned in May — the Gowda family scion took to X on Wednesday to say nobody should feel that he was “taking a step out from politics due to his defeat in Lok Sabha and Vidhana Sabha elections”. Striking a defiant tone, he said, “I know my responsibility. Defeats in elections are temporary … Time will answer everything.”
JD(S) MLC T A Sharavana told The Indian Express that giving Nikhil this break from politics would “help the party shed the image of being a party of one family”. Said Sharavana, “There is no question of him leaving politics as he is the grandson of Deve Gowda. Kumaraswamy’s advice for him is to concentrate on cinema. Nikhil will have to balance both (politics and cinema). That is why he wants to be away from electoral politics. The party is trying to shed the family image. In the core committee of the state JD(S), recently set up, none of the members are from the Deve Gowda family.”
— With ENS Bengaluru inputs
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