He is known as the ”trouble shooter” of the Congress but when it came to becoming the Chief Minister, D K Shivakumar couldn’t clear the hurdle and was pipped to the post by Siddaramaiah. With Shivakumar as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, the party scored a resounding victory in the May 10 elections with 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly. And he appeared to be ”the man of the moment”.
The 61-year-old eight-time MLA, whose organising skills earned him full praise by the party central leadership particularly in the recent high-stakes polls, put up a spirited fight to bag the coveted post but had to settle for the deputy Chief Minister’s post.
The Congress counted on Shivakumar, who is fondly called as ‘Kanakapura bande (rock)’ by his supporters, when it wanted to keep its flock together during the time when the then Maharashtra Chief Minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh faced the trust vote, and Ahmed Patel was contesting Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. ”When Deshmukh faced the no-trust vote in 2002 he got in touch with Shivakumar. As a trouble shooter, Shivakumar huddled the Maharashtra MLAs in his resort on Bengaluru outskirts for a week until the date of vote. This move saved the Deshmukh government,” a Congress leader recounted.
He was also ”instrumental” in ensuring the victory of late Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat in 2017 as well, when he again corralled the Congress MLAs in Gujarat in a resort, according to another party leader.
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In September 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a money laundering case against Shivakumar, A Hanumanthaiah, an employee at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and other people.
The case was based on an Income Tax Department chargesheet filed against Shivakumar and others before a court in Bengaluru for alleged tax evasion and hawala dealings.
The I-T department accused Shivakumar and his associate S K Sharma of transporting huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through ‘hawala’ channels with the help of three other accused.
A series of raids by the Income Tax and ED ensued and cases were slapped against him.
He was arrested by the ED on September 3, 2019 in a money-laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after an intense interrogation. He got bail on October 23, 2019.
On May 26, 2022, the ED filed a chargesheet under the anti-money laundering law against Shivakumar.
Incidentally, Shivakumar was the third-richest candidate in the fray in Karnataka Assembly polls this year, with assets worth Rs 1,413 crore, the Association for Democratic Reforms said in its report. Born on May 15, 1962 in Kanakapura to Doddalahalli Kempe Gowda and Gouramma, Shivakumar started his political career as a student leader in the 1980s and gradually rose through the ranks of the Congress party.
Shivakumar contested his maiden election from Sathanur Assembly constituency (which was rechristened as Kanakapura after delimitation in 2008) in 1989 when he was just 27.
Over three decades later when the crucial 2023 Assembly results were announced on Saturday, an emotional Shivakumar said, ”I give credit to party cadres and all the leaders for the party’s victory. People have reposed faith in us and the leaders supported us. It is a collective leadership and we have worked jointly.” ”I had told Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge that we will deliver Karnataka to you,” he had said.
The strong Vokkaliga face of the Congress, Shivakumar continued his winning streak in Kanakapura, defeating senior BJP leader R Ashoka by over 1.22 lakh votes in the recent polls.