It’s been a hectic past few months in Karnataka. The poll season, in all its glory, has seen an aggressive campaign from all sides with top leaders from cutting across regions and party lines making a beeline to the poll-bound state to woo voters. Come May 10 and the state will decide the fate of 2,613 candidates in fray to instal a new government.
While personal attacks and counter-allegations have come to define poll campaigns in India lately, Karnataka stands out for a couple of reasons. The first is the unpredictability of the electorate which has often thrown up hung verdicts. The second is the high stakes that all parties attach to this state. The third, and perhaps the one that stands out, is the continuing involvement of a number of political dynasties election after election in the state that many national parties see as the gateway to the South.
The southern state has two families with the unique distinction of having two father-son duos becoming Chief Ministers. HD Deve Gowda-Kumaraswamy and SR Bommai and his son and incumbent CM Basavaraj Bommai. The state has also seen several personalities rise in national politics — former Prime Minister Deve Gowda and present Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge are a few examples.
Here’s a look at the most prominent political families in Karnataka:
Basavaraj Bommai – SR Bommai
The Bommais are a family where the father and son have both become chief ministers of the state. Born on January 28, 1960 in Hubbali, Basavaraj Somappa Bommai is currently serving as the 30th Chief Minister of the state. His father Somappa Rayappa Bommai, a Janata Parivar stalwart and an MLA from Hubballi Rural constituency, served as the 11th CM of the state from August 3, 1988 to April 21, 1989.
With the 2023 Karnataka elections, the third generation of the SR Bommai family is also active on the ground, seeking a win for the BJP in the upcoming polls. Bommai’s son Bharath is also campaigning for his father in Shiggaon in Haveri district.
HD-Deve Gowda – HD Kumaraswamy
Another prominent political family is that of former Chief Ministers HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy. Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda who served as the Prime Minister of India for 324 days — from June 1, 1996, to April 21, 1997, was sworn-in as the country’s 12th PM after the dramatic fall of the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government on May 27, 1996.
Deve Gowda resigned as the CM of the state on May 30, 1996 to be sworn in as the PM. As for his son, after days of high drama and power-broking following the fall of the BJP, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy was sworn in as the 24th CM on May 23, 2018. This was Kumaraswamy’s second term as the CM of the state since 2007, when he last held the post for 20 months. In this election, Kumaraswamy is contesting from Channapatna seat.
Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil will also be contesting in the 2023 Karnataka elections from the Ramnagar seat in the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency. Currently, the seat is represented by Nikhil’s mother Anita Kumaraswamy, who won the 2018 by-election by a whopping margin of over 1 lakh votes.
BS Yediyurappa – Vijayendra Yeddyurappa
Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced his retirement from electoral politics on January 30 this year. The 80-year-old leader also made it clear that he would not contest the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections. After he quit, he said that his son Vijayendra Yeddyurappa would contest from the Shikaripura seat.
Born in 1943, BS Yediyurappa worked as a clerk in a rice mill after completing his graduation. He joined the Sangh and was later appointed as the President of the Taluk unit of the Jana Sangh in 1972. He has represented the Shikaripura constituency six times, and was the first CM from south India for the BJP.
BS Yeddyurappa has two sons – BY Raghavendra, a BJP Lok Sabha member from Shivamogga constituency, and BY Vijayendra, who will be contesting from Shikaripura in this polls. He has three daughters – Arunadevi, Padmavati and Umadevi.
Tejasvi Surya – Ravi Subramanya
Born in 1990 into a political family, Tejasvi Surya became the youngest BJP MP from the Bangalore South constituency, having assumed office at the age of 28 years. His father was the former joint Commissioner of Excise, while his uncle Ravi Subramanya is a three-time MLA from the Basavanagudi constituency in Bengaluru South.
Jagadish Shettar – Pradeep Shettar
Former Chief Minister and BJP-turned-Congress leader Jagadish Shettar, is contesting from the Hubli-Dharwad (Central) segment this time from a Congress ticket after being denied ticket from the BJP. He has been a six-time MLA.
Shettar’s uncle Sadashiv Shettar was the first BJP member in the family — in its Jan Sangh avatar — to be elected to the Karnataka Assembly in 1967 from the Hubballi constituency. Jagadish’s father SS Shettar was a five-time councillor in the Hubli-Dharwad city corporation and served as the first Jan Sangh mayor of any city in southern India.
Shettar became the CM of the state in 2012-2013 when the BJP needed a Lingayat face following the brief exit of Yediyurappa who formed the Karnataka Janata Party. Jagadish Shettar’s brother Pradeep Shettar is also an MLC from the BJP.
Siddaramaiah – Yathindra
Karnataka’s Opposition leader and former CM Siddaramaiah has announced that the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections will be his last elections and post this he will retire from politics. He said he wished to represent his native constituency and then retire, and hence he was contesting from the Varuna seat.
Siddaramaiah was a member of various Janata Parivar factions before finally joining the Congress in 2006. After leading the Congress to victory by achieving an absolute majority in the 2013 state elections, Siddaramaiah was appointed the 22nd Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Siddaramaiah is married to Parvathi and they have two sons. While one of his sons Rakesh died in July 2016 in Belgium due to multiple organ failure, his another son Yathindra, a doctor, contested from the Varuna constituency in the 2018 Assembly elections and won. He is not contesting the May 10 elections.
Mallikarjun Kharge – Priyank Kharge
Priyank Kharge, son of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, will be contesting his first election from the Chittapur seat, after his father was elevated to the post of Congress president. Priyank, served as a minister in the Siddaramaiah government, is seeking re-election from the Chittapur seat.
Mallikarjun Kharge, despite being a staunch loyalist of the Gandhi family, lost out at being CM – in 1999, 2004 and 2013, to SM Krishna, his close friend Dharam Singh and Siddaramaiah, respectively.
Kharge, one of the prominent Dalit faces of the Congress, became the sixth leader from the South to become the Congress president post-Independence. He was appointed president of the city Congress of his hometown Gulbarga in 1969. He entered electoral politics in 1972 when he contested in the Assembly elections for the first time. He won and repeated the feat eight times. He became a minister for the first time in 1976 in the Devaraj Urs government.
He moved to national politics in 2009, when he entered the Lok Sabha for the first time.
DK Shivakumar – DK Suresh
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president DK Shivakumar is one of the most prominent candidates and political figures in Karnataka. A possible chief ministerial candidate, he has fielded his nomination from the Kanakapura seat in the May 10 polls.
DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh is a Congress MP from the Bangalore Rural seat who won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by over 2 lakh votes.
DK Shivakumar’s daughter Aishwarya married Amartya Hegde – son of Cafe Coffee Day founder late VG Siddhartha and grandson of BJP leader SM Krishna in 2021.