Bengaluru: Teary-eyed Congress leader D K Shivakumar on Saturday briefly belied the combative force he is for the Congress party, not just in the just concluded 2023 assembly polls, but on several crucial occasions in the past when his party needed him.
After whirlwind campaigns across the state ahead of polls, when the results came, Shivakumar, the tallest Vokkaliga leader of the Congress party and a strong contender for the Chief Minister’s post, broke down in full view of television cameras.
Vokkaligas are agrarian and form the second most dominant community after Lingayats in Karnataka.
A trusted lieutenant of the Gandhi family, Shivakumar, an eight-time MLA, is considered as a ”trouble shooter” for the party. He was at the thick of things in Maharashtra in 2002 as the then Vilas Rao Deshmukh government won a no-confidence motion.
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”When Deshmukh faced the no-trust vote he got in touch with Shivakumar. As a trouble shooter, Shivakumar huddled the Maharashtra MLAs in his resort on the 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 he huddled the Congress MLAs in the western state in a resort, according to another party leader.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had in September 2018 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 has 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 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 is the third richest candidate in the fray in the 2023 Karnataka assembly polls with assets worth Rs 1,413 crore, the Association for Democratic Reforms has said in its report.
Born on May 15, 1962 in Kanakapura to Doddalahalli Kempe Gowda and Gouramma, Shivakumar has been a staunch Congressman from the beginning.
He started his political career as a student leader in the 1980s and gradually rose through the ranks of the Congress party.
He contested his maiden election from Sathanur Assembly constituency 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,” Shivakumar, a key contender to the Chief Minister’s post said, his voice choking.
”I had told Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge that we will deliver Karnataka”, he said.
The strong Vokkaliga face of the Congress continued his winning streak in Kanakapura, defeating senior BJP leader and Revenue Minister R Ashoka, a six-time MLA.