Revanna Scandal In Election Time May Not Dent JD(S) Prospects But Split In Party Now Wide Open - Vibes Of India

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Revanna Scandal In Election Time May Not Dent JD(S) Prospects But Split In Party Now Wide Open

| Updated: May 1, 2024 13:17

On April 24, a pen drive containing 2,976 obscene videos showing Prajwal involved in purported sexual acts surfaced in Hassan, two days before the Lok Sabha constituency went to polls. The controversy split open the simmering rift between the two sons of Deve Gowda — former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and his elder brother, MLA HD Revanna — for political supremacy.

Even as the JD(S) core committee suspended Prajwal from the party temporarily until allegations against him were probed, Kumaraswamy’s reaction to the sex scandal was, “Three days ago who released it and why it was released now, why it wasn’t released before? Why the old issue has been released at the time of the elections? The SIT has been formed, let the truth come out and punishment has to be borne by those who committed mistakes, as per the law of the land.”

Before the announcement of the SIT, Revanna reportedly left the country for Frankfurt. Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded that he should be summoned back to India.

After the row erupted last week, a first information report alleging sexual harassment was lodged on Sunday against Prajwal and his father HD Revanna, based on a complaint by a woman who had worked in Revanna’s house. She alleged she was sexually abused multiple times between 2019 and 2022.

Preliminary investigations have suggested that most of the videos were shot at Revanna’s residences in Bengaluru and Hassan.

Prajwal is contesting the Hassan seat on a JD(S) ticket, which was one of the three seats given to the party by the BJP in the polls seat-sharing agreement. However, his candidature evoked protests from the local BJP leaders, including former MLA Preetam J Gowda, who refused to accept Prajwal as the National Democratic Front (NDA) candidate. To ease the tension, Kumaraswamy, who is known to address everyone as “brother” called Preetam Gowda his brother. The latter snapped back stating that becoming brothers in politics is impossible. Gowda did not campaign for Prajwal and worked in the Mysuru constituency.

The JD(S) is known as the kingmaker in the formation of governments in Karnataka since 2004, though it has been losing its political sheen in recent times. It won just 19 of the total 224 assembly seats in the 2023 polls with a dismal performance in the old Mysuru region dominated by the Vokkaliga community (which Deve Gowda represents). The party also witnessed large-scale desertions by workers and its strength to face a future election single-handedly had become doubtful.

JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda, 91, was also aware that without him, the rift within the family would split the JD(S). Justifying the poll alliance with the BJP on September 27, 2023, Deve Gowda said it was aimed at saving the party and assured his party was committed to secular credentials and would not let the minorities down. In the present Lok Sabha polls, the JD(S) is contesting three out of the total 28 seats. Of the three, Kumaraswamy and Prajwal are the candidates from the JD(S)-BJP alliance for two seats in Mandya and Hassan respectively.

Prajwal’s episode has taken another political turn now with Kumaraswamy and his arch-political rival, deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar engaged in a slanging match over the videos. Kumaraswamy on April 30 accused Shivakumar of making the obscene videos viral.

The episode led to reactions from prominent BJP leaders, with Union home minister Amit Shah demanding to know why the Congress government in Karnataka has not taken action on it. “We do not have to take action on this as this is a law-and-order issue of the state, state government has to take action on it… We are in favour of the investigation and our partner JD(S) has also announced to take action against it,” he added.

Karthik, a former driver of the Revanna family, reportedly shared the pen drive containing the videos with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and advocate G Devaraje Gowda.

Devaraje Gowda said Karthik approached him in 2023, saying he was in possession of some obscene videos featuring Revanna. Devaraje Gowda said he had sent an email to state BJP president BY Vijayendra in December 2023, which stated that if the BJP were to nominate a JD(S) candidate in Hassan for the Lok Sabha elections, these videos could be used as a brahmastra (devastating weapon) and that the saffron party will be tainted as a party that aligned with the family of a rapist. Gowda was the BJP candidate who went against Revanna from Holenarsipur in Hassan district in the 2023 Assembly polls and lost.

Devaraje Gowda said the email regarding the contents of the pen drive sent to Vijayendra bounced back and a message regarding the same sent to Vijayendra on WhatsApp received a blue tick, but there was no response. “Party workers like us in districts get no access to the leaders and we have to resort to emails or phone calls to reach them. Only on April 29, Vijayendra got back to me asking for the copy of the letter I had sent,” he said.

However, Karthik has a different version. According to him, after working for Revanna as a driver for 17 years, he quit following a land dispute between both. “I approached Devaraje Gowda to get the injunction on the videos vacated when he assured me that if I had a copy of them, he would submit only to the judge to ensure justice. He is now accusing me of having passed on the videos to Shivakumar,” he stated.

In June 2023, Prajwal had moved a Bengaluru civil court against 86 media outlets and three private persons seeking a gag order to prevent the dissemination of what he termed as “fake news” and “morphed photographs/videos.” Prajwal was granted an injunction from the court on June 2, 2023.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Commission for Women chairperson Nagalakshmi Chowdhary said she received the objectionable videos on her mobile on April 25. “There were 100 such explicit videos with the women’s faces visible. I immediately informed CM Siddaramaiah, who said an SIT would be set up,” she added. “Now I am going to recommend to the chief minister to ask the cyber crime police to take action against those spreading these videos across social media,” she said.

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