JD(S) pips Congress in Vokkaliga outreach over DK Shivakumar’s arrest
Former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy who visited Shivakumar’s mother’s house in Kodihalli village on the outskirts of Bengaluru, said there was o reason to arrest the Congress leader.Updated: Sep 07, 2019 13:02 IST
Days after the arrest of former minister and Congress leader DK Shivakumar by the Enforcement Directorate the Janata Dal (Secular) has bested the Congress by appealing to Vokkaliga pride in defence of the leader.
As part of this outreach, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy visited Shivakumar’s mother’s house in Kodihalli village in Kanakapura taluk on the outskirts of the state capital. Shivakumar is the MLA from Kanakapura constituency.
“I don’t have to speak about the way the Constitutional institutions have been misused it is there for everybody to see,” Kumaraswamy said. “JD(S) and Congress MLAs were traded for Rs 30-40 crore but the Income Tax Department hasn’t done anything,” he added.
“Already, our [Vokkaliga] community’s leader SM Krishna’s son-in-law had written a letter about the harassment meted out to him,” Kumaraswamy said, referring to the suicide of Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha. “I am not here to politicise on the basis of caste, we respect everybody,” he said. “This is condemnable because there was no need to take him into custody, it is apparent what the aims are,” he said.
Shivakumar, former minister in the Kumaraswamy government and the lead trouble shooter for the Congress in Karnataka, was arrested by the ED in connection with a case of money laundering. The probe was taken up based on information collected after the Income Tax Department conducted searches at Shivakumar’s properties in August 2017, when he was playing host to MLAs from Gujarat ahead of a Rahya Sabha election in that state.
Shivakumar and the family of former prime HD Deve Gowda hail from the same community, which is a dominant force in the Old Mysuru region in southern Karnataka. And the JD(S) depends on primarily on the Vokkaliga community as its support base, unlike the Congress.
To be sure, the Congress has also hit the streets to protest the arrest, but it is the JD(S) that is gaining political mileage by taking the Vokkaliga route to gain sympathy in the region, where the two parties are direct rivals and the Bharatiya Janata Party is a distant third.
Kumaraswamy’s visit followed a day after his elder brother HD Revanna said at a public meeting that he condemned the arrest of Shivakumar. “He is a Congress leader from our community, and he was arrested because they feared that he was growing in stature,” he said.
The JD(S) outreach follows the recent bonhomie between Shivakumar and the Deve Gowda family. Before the 2018 elections, Shivakumar was seen as a threat by the family, but that has changed. In fact, many in the Congress were annoyed with Shivakumar for his support to the coalition government the party had with the JD(S).
Congress state working president Eshwar Khandre said the party welcomed the JD(S)’s support for their leader. “We cannot speak about their intentions, but we welcome their support to our leader,” he said.
However, a Vokkaliga leader of the party, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that this was just a last ditch attempt by the JD(S) to shore up its eroding support base. “They were worried because there were no protests when the coalition government was in trouble. Therefore, they are using this as a means of reasserting their hold over the community. However, it won’t be of much help to them,” he said.
Political analyst Narendar Pani, faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, said that such a mobilisation would be mutually beneficial for the former coalition partners. “Any mobilisation of the Vokkaliga community by the JD(S) is bound to benefit the Congress because, after all, he is a Congress leader,” Pani said.
This could potentially reverse the inroads made by the BJP into the Old Mysuru region, Pani added. “Sympathy for Shivakumar will rule out the BJP as a player in the region and make it a direct fight between the Congress and JD(S) once again,” he said.