All For the Family: How Gowdas and Mallikarjun Kharge Got 'Son Stroke' in Modi Summer

Mallikarjun Kharge has tasted his first electoral defeat in his fiefdom Gulbarga. He never lost an election till May 23 and in the past, had won nine assembly and two Lok Sabha elections in a row.

Bengaluru: In peak summer season, two top political leaders from Karnataka have been hit by a "son stroke". They are chief minister H D Kumaraswamy and leader of the Congress party in the previous Lok Sabha, M Mallikarjuna Kharge.

Kharge, a Congress stalwart and top Dalit leader, has tasted his first electoral defeat in his fiefdom Gulbarga. He had first won an assembly election in 1972 never lost an election till May 23. In the past, he had won nine assembly and two Lok Sabha elections in a row.

Close associates of his says he never expected this kind of humiliating defeat. Kharge lost to his one-time protégé, Dr Umesh Jadhav, who quit as a Congress MLA just two months ago to join the BJP.

Jadhav, a ministerial aspirant from Gulbarga, had quit in protest against Kharge's son and Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge. He had accused him of interference and high-handedness. He had also blamed Kharge's “blind love” for his son as the main reason for decline of the Congress party in Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

According to insiders, the Congress was planning to induct Jadhav into the HDK cabinet in last December to quell the rebellion, but Kharge vehemently opposed it.

Fed up with the repeated humiliation, Jadhav defected to BJP vowing to defeat the Kharge clan. It was a double bonanza for him as his son Avinash Jadhav also won from Chincholi in a by-election on a BJP ticket from the seat vacated by him.

Baburao Chinchansur, a former Congress minister who defected to the BJP last year, placed the blame for Kharge’s defeat on his son, Priyank.

"Kharge has done a lot of work for Gulbarga and Hyderabad - Karnataka region. He is popular and well respected. But, the entry of his son spoiled everything. To promote his son Kharge sidelined other seniors in the party. He made him a minister. Naturally it led to desertions from Congress. If he had not turned a blind eye to ground realities, Kharge would not have lost like this," he said.

Ignoring all warnings HD Kumaraswamy had also fielded his cine actor son Nikhil Kumar from family bastion Mandya, thinking that he would easily sail through. What gave him so much confidence was the combined vote share of Congress and JDS was 88 per cent in Mandya.

HDK's family promotion led to a tsunami of protests from both Congress and JDS voters finally engulfing his entire family.

Late actor and politician Ambareesh's wife Sumalatha won from Mandya as an independent with support from BJP, handing out the most humiliating defeat to the Gowdas.

HDK's elder brother and PWD minister HD Revanna forced his father and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda to vacate his borough Hassan for son Prajwal. Gowda shifted to a tough seat Tumkur and lost by a small margin causing an earthquake in the family. Grandson Prajwal won easily from Hassan and he is the lone JDS MP this time. A shocked Prajwal's offers to quit have been rejected by Gowda.

In a similar development, former chief minister Siddaramaiah had ruined Congress chances and lost his own Assembly seat just to make his son, Dr. Yatheendra, an MLA last year.

With the BJP literally sweeping the state and dealing a death blow to the Congress and JDS dynasts, Gowda, Kharge and Siddaramaiah are staring at a bleak future. Their upset party workers rue that these leaders destroyed both themselves and the party. All for the family.