Bengaluru: Over a month ago, the JDS supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda flew from Mangalore to Bengaluru. He was there to attend the wedding of powerful JDS leader and MLC B M Farooq's daughter, Fiza.
The entire Gowda family, including his sons CM H D Kumaraswamy and PWD minister H D Revanna, MLA and daughter-in-law Anitha Kumaraswamy and grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy were present at the function.
But at the centre of attraction were his grandsons, Prajwal and Nikhil. In their late twenties, the two cousins kept each other at an arm’s distance, making public their tense relationship. However, both were seen conversing with their grandfather, giving credence to rumours that they would be contesting in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
It is no secret that Gowda clan is politically ambitious and the third generation is also fighting for prominence in politics. The patriarch Gowda is a veteran with 14 election wins under his belt. Sons Revanna and Kumaraswamy are also stalwarts in state politics.
Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha is a two-time MLA and Bhavani, wife of Revanna, is a Zilla Panchayat member in Gowda's fiefdom Hassan district.
A shrewd politician, Gowda knows that his own party leaders are not comfortable with too many members from the first family taking over all important posts.
During the last Assembly elections, Gowda had persuaded Prajwal to not ask for the ticket by promising him his Lok Sabha seat Hassan. Prajwal is now demanding that his grandfather walk the talk. Under pressure, Gowda has agreed to vacate the Hassan seat for him.
This has prompted his other grandson, actor Nikhil, to demand a Lok Sabha seat for himself.
A worried Gowda has already confirmed ticket to Prajwal. Speaking to News18, he said he is vacating the Hassan Lok Sabha seat for Prajwal as promised and will decide on whether to contest from some other seat.
According to sources in the Gowda family, Nikhil has already decided to contest from Mandya and Kumaraswamy has agreed to it. "If Prajwal contests, most likely Nikhil will also contest. Gowda is not in a position to say no to them," said a close aide of the family.
In the recent bypoll, JDS' L R Shivarame Gowda won from Mandya and rumour mills are abuzz with reports of him being sacrificed to make way for Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
The JDS is demanding 12 out 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka from its alliance partner Congress. But the latter is willing to give just eight seats to the Gowdas.
If both the grandsons get tickets, and so does Gowda, three members from the same family will be fighting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The Gowdas are justifying the decision by giving the example of Mulayam, Lalu, Karunanidhi, KCR and Badal families who also have several members in Assembly and Parliament.
The entry of third generation Gowdas into state politics has already unnerved some senior leaders in the party. But the cadre is enthused.