Family members of H.D. Deve Gowda and D.K. Shivakumar pitted against each other

The byelection to the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency on August 21 is not just a contest between the ruling Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

It is virtually a battle between the families of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, considering the nearly 30-year-old political one-upmanship between the two in the region.

It was in 1985 that Mr. Shivakumar first contested against Mr. Gowda from the then Sathanur Assembly segment as a Congress candidate. Though Mr. Gowda won, he “deserted” Sathanur as he got elected from Holenarsipur Assembly as well. In the byelection, Mr. Shivakumar got elected from Sathanur.

In the 1989 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Shivakumar again contested against Mr. Gowda from the Kanakapura Lok Sabha constituency and lost. However, he avenged the defeat by humbling Mr. Gowda’s son H.D. Kumaraswamy in Sathanur Assembly constituency in the 1994 Assembly polls.

Foothold

Mr. Shivakumar slowly gained a foothold over the Bangalore Rural region and got elected as legislator six times since 1989 — four times from Sathanur and twice from Kanakapura. In the 2013 Assembly polls, he defeated Janata Dal (Secular) leader P.G.R. Sindhia with a huge margin from Kanakapura.

When Lok Sabha bypolls for Bangalore Rural and Mandya were announced following the resignation of Mr. Kumaraswamy and N. Chaluvarayaswamy, the Congress requested Mr. Shivakumar to field his brother D.K. Suresh as the party could not find any other “suitable” candidate to take on JD (S) candidate Anitha Kumaraswamy, Mr. Kumaraswamy’s wife.

While it is a matter of prestige for the JD (S) to retain the constituency represented by Mr. Kumaraswamy, it is a litmus test for Mr. Shivakumar, who could not make it to Siddaramaiah’s cabinet, to prove his strength in his own turf. Even Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G. Parameshwara has described the election as a “battle between two high-profile families.”

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