Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has got another challenger in the upcoming Assembly Elections, and this man is none other than his own Energy Minister D K Shivakumar. The Karnataka election has become very chaotic; let’s take a look at the major players in the upcoming polls:
BS Yeddyurappa: Yeddyurappa is the chief ministerial candidate for the BJP in the upcoming elections. He led the BJP to victory in the 2008 Assembly Elections and remains to be the only Chief Minister the BJP has ever had in a south Indian state. He is from Mandya district in south Karnataka and belongs to the powerful Lingayat community which forms 10 percent of the voting population. Lingayats are the dominant community in northern Karnataka and Yeddyurappa enjoys popularity among them. During his tenure as Chief Minister he donated handsomely to Lingayat mutts and ashrams.
Siddaramaiah: He is the incumbent Chief Minister of Karnataka and a senior leader in the Karnataka Congress. He was born in Mysore district of south Karnataka and belongs to the numerically strong Kuruba Gowda caste, which is 7% Karnataka’s total population. He was a member of Janata Dal(Secular) till 2005 when he joined the Congress party. He was made Chief Minister due to his proximity to the Gandhi family when Congress won the 2013 Assembly Elections. Although being the self-proclaimed chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections, he is facing stiff competition from DK Shivakumar, Energy Minister of Karnataka.
HD Kumaraswamy: Kumaraswamy is another example of blatant nepotism that is rotting Indian politics day by day. He is the son of H D Deve Gowda, who had a short stint as the 11th Prime Minister of India. He is the chief ministerial candidate of his father’s Janata Dal(Secular) party. He belongs to the Vokkaliga caste which comprises 8.16% of the state’s population, primarily based in central and south Karnataka. Vokkaligas are primarily small scale land-owning farmers.
DK Shivakumar: Shivakumar is Energy Minister in the current Siddaramaiah government. He is the second richest minister of India with assets worth 251 crores. In the 2013 Assembly Polls, he was among the richest candidates contesting the elections with an increase of Rs 176 Crore from the 2008 elections. He is known as the muscle man of Congress. When 44 MLAs of Gujarat Congress were transported to a Bengaluru resort to protect them from horse trading, he was given the responsibility to look after them. He is among the most corrupt politicians of India with several cases of illegal mining, illegal transportation of granite and improper land distribution. Land activists accused Shivakumar and his brother DK Suresh (Member of Parliament from Bangalore Rural) of grabbing 66 acres of land allocated for Dalits and the poor in a housing society scam.
Shivakumar’s threat to Siddaramaiah’s leadership
In a scenario where Congress gets full majority in these elections, Siddaramaiah will be the leader of the party in Vidhan Soudha. However, if the party gets a fractured mandate, there will be a tussle for the top chair, with Shivakumar being one of the top contenders. In an election rally in Tirthalli he asked the crowd, “…if Kumaraswamy could become CM, why not me?” He was campaigning for Kimmane Ratnakar of Congress when he told voters: “If you want me to become the CM of the state, send Ratnakar to the Assembly”. The power struggle between Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar is going on for quite some time now.
If Congress turns out to be the largest party without getting a majority, then there is a reasonable chance that a leader as corrupt and criminal as DK Shivakumar could go on to become Chief Minister.