Congress candidates seek to milk DKS' star image

Former Minister and Senior Congress leade DK Shivakumar. (DH photo/Pushkar V)

Demand seems soaring for Congress leader D K Shivakumar as the party candidates are exerting pressure on him to campaign in their constituencies for
the December 5 bypolls to make the most of his ‘star value’ following his release from jail. 

Shivakumar is already campaigning in over half-a-dozen constituencies out of the 15 that face bypolls. 

On Friday, Shivakumar campaigned in Shivajinagar and Mahalakshmi Layout segments. “MLAs not only sold themselves, but they also sold your mandate,” Shivakumar told voters referring to the disqualified MLAs who jumped ship to the BJP. “Those who have betrayed their own mother and defected should be taught a lesson.”

Apparently, Congress candidates are reaching out to him with requests to be ‘more visible’ in their constituencies. There are a number of reasons for this, according to a person close to Shivakumar. “There’s obviously the Vokkaliga factor, in that, his campaigns can help consolidate the community’s vote in the Congress’ favour,” the person said. “Also, there’s the sympathy factor, especially after his release from jail. There’s a star value that can draw crowds.”

Last month, Shivakumar received a hero’s welcome after he walked out of his 50-day incarceration in connection with a money laundering case.

That the Vokkaliga strongman is being sought by leaders within the party comes amid speculation that he is tipped to be given a key leadership role. There is talk that Shivakumar might replace Dinesh Gundu Rao as the KPCC president. 

The Congress had started preparing for the bypolls when Shivakumar was released from jail. Then, there was little clarity on what he will be asked to do for the bypolls, with Shivakumar himself saying he had not received any directives from the state leadership. 

Ahead of the December 5 bypolls, Shivakumar has campaigned in Chikballapur, Hoskote, Hunsur, KR Pet and KR Puram. He is slated to visit Ranebennur and Hirekerur in the coming days. 

The only concern, however, is that Shivakumar’s health may not permit him to carry out as many campaigns as he would like. The former minister was hospitalised earlier this month due to varying blood pressure and vitamin deficiency. He also suffers from a bad lumbar disc.

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