Battle for supremacy over Vokkaliga vote takes ugly turn in Karnataka amid ‘sex scandal’

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Battle for supremacy over Vokkaliga vote takes ugly turn in Karnataka amid ‘sex scandal’

Bengaluru: The battle to emerge as the face of the Vokkaliga community has taken an ugly turn in Karnataka with the surfacing of the sex scandal allegedly involving sitting MP and JD-S candidate from Hassan seat, Prajwal Revanna, who is also the grandson of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

The confrontation between Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s family — both hailing from the Vokkaliga community, has reached a bitter point.

The Deve Gowda family has never faced such embarrassing allegations since its prominence in state and national politics.

The community, primarily comprising landlords, has an estimated population of about 16 percent in the state. It is mainly based in south Karnataka districts, including the state capital Bengaluru. The Vokkaliga factor plays a significant role in state elections, as the community has a strong presence in 70 to 80 Assembly constituencies and 10 to 15 Parliamentary seats.

Deputy CM Shivakumar emerged as a Vokkaliga face in the 2023 Assembly elections after Congress declared him as one of the Chief Minister faces. The Congress won the maximum seats in south Karnataka, dominated by the community, and the JD-S, which derived core strength from Vokkaligas, was reduced to 19 seats.

Though Shivakumar did not secure the post of Chief Minister, he consolidated his position in the government and the party.

Aware of Shivakumar’s aggressive political tactics and his aim to emerge as the unquestionable leader of the Vokkaliga community after Deve Gowda, the JD-S had joined hands with the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Sources said that the Deputy Chief Minister may have gained a commanding influence on the Vokkaliga vote bank as the Deve Gowda family is forced to take a defensive stance amid the alleged sex scandal.

Deve Gowda’s son, former Chief Minister, and state JD-S President H.D. Kumaraswamy, has been lashing out at Shivakumar and his brother, sitting Congress MP D.K. Suresh.

Kumaraswamy called them “420s” (cheaters). He also accused Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar of managing the release of the pen drive containing alleged sex videos of Prajwal Revanna. The JD-S leader has vowed that he will not sit quietly now and will not leave the matter here.

Congress MP Suresh on Thursday said, “For them (Deve Gowda family), respect means nothing. But, it matters to the families of the poor victims. I don’t want to comment on the ‘420’ remark on us. If I use it on former PM Deve Gowda, his supporters will feel bad…Their party symbol of women carrying crops is being ridiculed.”

Sources claimed that three days before the state’s first phase election (held on April 26), thousands of pen drives containing alleged sex videos were dumped at public locations throughout the Hassan Parliamentary constituency.

Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar had repeatedly claimed that the JD-S would lose all three seats and also the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha seat, from where Deve Gowda’s son-in-law C.N. Manjunath is contesting the Lok Sabha election.

The alleged videos shocked the state, and the Congress government, without wasting time, formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). CM Siddaramaiah claimed on social media that it is prima facie found that there are atrocities committed against women.

The National Women’s Commission (NCW) also sought a report from the state police.

The BJP slammed the state government for not arresting the accused MP and allowing him to fly abroad.

Sources say that development is likely to take more serious twists in the coming days as the Deve Gowda family’s influence, strength and reach cannot be undermined.

With Kumaraswamy claiming to be set for a big expose, the political corridors are abuzz with speculation that more skeletons will emerge from the closet in state politics.

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