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Karnataka Elections 2018: Yatheendra Siddaramaiah, a Recluse Struggling to Fit Into Brother's Shoes in Varuna

The political heir apparent of his famous and powerful father, Yatheendra was an unknown person even to some of Siddaramaiah’s close circles till his elder brother Rakesh died in Belgium in mid-2016.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 17, 2018, 11:04 AM IST
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Karnataka Elections 2018: Yatheendra Siddaramaiah, a Recluse Struggling to Fit Into Brother's Shoes in Varuna
According to some close aides of Siddaramaiah, Yatheendra was not interested in contesting the elections from Varuna, but reluctantly agreed after his father persuaded him.
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Bengaluru: The day Siddaramaiah took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka five summers ago, life was as usual for his younger son Dr. Yatheendra.

After breakfast at home, he took out his Maruti Swift car from the garage and drove to his diagnostic centre in the middle-class area of Basaveshwara Nagar in Bengaluru.

Even when his father was taking oath before a 50,000-strong crowd at the Kanteerava Stadium, Yatheendra was busy attending to his patients. After a hectic day at work, he drove back home and was stopped by police security men at his house. Fortunately, someone recognised him and the gates were opened, claims a family aide.

Speaking to this reporter a week later, Siddaramaiah proudly said that his younger son was “shy and brilliant”. “Yatheendra is a rank student. He never used my name anywhere. He is shy, somewhat a recluse and brilliant,” he had said.

The political heir apparent of his famous and powerful father, Yatheendra was an unknown person even to some of Siddaramaiah’s close circles till his elder brother Rakesh died in Belgium in mid-2016. He was busy with his medical practice and had no interest in politics. He had literally shunned public life.

Yatheendra is closer to Parvathi Siddaramaiah, his mother and the reclusive wife of the chief minister. He has never visited his father’s office at Vidhana Soudha and entertained no one from his Assembly seat till early 2017.

Rakesh, who died at the age of 38, was said to be his father’s favourite son and Siddaramaiah had decided to groom him as a successor in politics. He died suddenly during a visit to Belgium and his younger brother was forced to come out of his secluded life.

According to family members, Yatheendra was initially reluctant to take the plunge into politics and had tried to avoid the topic for a few months. But Siddaramaiah wanted him to look after his Assembly constituency Varuna in Mysore district. It was earlier handled by Rakesh.

“When Yatheendra first came to Varuna, nobody knew him. He knew no one. He was so shy. He ran away from the media. He is polite to a fault… gives a lot of respect to everyone. He has now understood local politics and freely mingles with the people. He is certainly not like his father who is daring and irreverent,” said a Mysore-based journalist.

According to some close aides of Siddaramaiah, Yatheendra was not interested in contesting the elections from Varuna, but reluctantly agreed after his father persuaded him.

Commenting on his son’s entry into electoral arena, the Chief Minister said it was the wish of the local people and he was not pushing his son into politics. “No one will vote for him just because he is my son. They will elect him only if he has got good qualities. I am proud of my son. He is liked by one and all in the constituency. I am sure he will win,” said Siddaramaiah.

Yatheendra’s name, however, had figured in a controversy two years ago. A lab in which Yatheendra was also a partner had bid for a contract to operate a laboratory at government-run Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru. After it became an issue, Yatheendra’s company decided to withdraw the bid.

One of his friends had defended him saying that just because he is the Chief Minister’s son, it was unfair to prevent him from doing legal business. “He would have provided affordable medical services to poor patients. The politics came in the way. He is a highly qualified doctor. He does not need to run a lab outside a government hospital for money,” said one of his friends.

Siddaramaiah has been highly active on social media these days and some people see Yatheendra’s behind this sudden change in his father’s attitude. “Yatheendra is personally involved in social media activities of his father. He won’t tweet for him, but oversees things and handles many related issues,” said a friend.

Speaking to News18 about his entry into politics, Yatheendra said he was wholeheartedly accepted by the people of Varuna constituency and being Siddaramaiah’s son was not the only criteria for him.

“Even if your father is a Chief Minister, you need to have leadership qualities. Otherwise you won’t succeed in politics. People accept you, if you are good to them,” he said.

Yatheendra explained that in the last one-and-a-half years, he has travelled across the constituency familiarising himself with local issues and people.

He refused to comment on his BJP rival and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa’s son Vijayendra, saying he knows nothing about him and is not in a position to say anything. “Even if I lose, please don’t blame my father for it. It would be my defeat. Not my father’s. But I am winning certainly,” said Yatheendra.

Tabu Rao, his close friend and wife of KPCC working president Dinesh Gundurao, said Yatheendra would do very well in politics because he is “too humble and gentle”.

“You will never see a man like him. He is a gentle soul, extremely good. No Chief Minister’s son can be so down-to-earth like him. He will do well in public life. Yatheendra is also sharp and intelligent. He knows what is happening and how to handle tricky situations,” she said.

Former Congress leader H Vishwanath who joined the JD(S) over serious differences with Siddaramaiah said that Yatheendra was more like his mother. His mother Parvathi is known for humility and simplicity.

Santhosh Jayachandra, son of Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister TB Jayachandra, said that once he had seen Yatheendra and his mother travel in a city bus in Mysore.

“I was waiting at a traffic signal. A government bus was also waiting there. I was shocked to see mother and son sitting in that bus,” he said.

Will the MLA post change him if he wins from Varuna? Only time will tell.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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