Prajwal Revanna, Janata Dal (Secular) MP, and grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, is entangled in a sex tape scandal in Karnataka, with multiple women accusing him of molesting them.

The case has mounted troubles for the JD(S), with even some party members seeking his expulsion, even as Congress intensifies its criticism of the party and its ally BJP of allegedly helping the accused flee the country. However, political commentators note that the incident is likely to have a minimal impact on the ongoing polls. 

Thirty-three-year-old Prajwal is the incumbent MP from JDS’ family borough, Hassan, and has sought re-election. Hassan went to the polls on April 26. Multiple videos, allegedly sex tapes of Prajwal with several women, were being circulated among voters in Hassan, even during the campaign. According to the police department, a pen drive with 2,976 videos was circulating among residents of Hassan. 

Following this, on Saturday, a woman who works in Prajwal’s Hassan home submitted a complaint, claiming that he and his father, HD Revanna, the JD (S) MLA from Holenarasipur, had sexually abused her on multiple occasions between 2019 and 2022.

One more case was filed by a woman in the Hassan neighbourhood of Arsikere, accusing Prajwal of sexual assault. Prajwal, after the debacle, has ‘fled’ to Frankfurt, Germany, though party sources indicated that he has gone on a pre-planned visit.

His alleged escapades has resulted in disruption even inside the party. Some, such as JDS MLA Samruddhi Manjunath, have openly demanded the expulsion of both father and son and have asked Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy to take action. BJP has remained cagey about commenting on the issue, with most leaders saying it is an internal issue of JDS and that the ‘law will take its course.’

CM Siddaramaiah has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT). Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who is campaigning in Karnataka, hit out at the BJP for remaining silent on the issue. Meanwhile, the State government said that the probe is being done in response to the request of the Women’s Commission. 

Political analysts, however, feel the scandal is unlikely to have much impact on the remaining 14 Lok Sabha seats, mostly in Northern Karnataka, which go to polls on May 7.

Political analyst Rajendra Chenni said, “Unfortunately, it is being treated as a local issue. It is not being taken seriously, and JDS leaders have not taken a strong stance yet, which is very questionable. This will also have a minimal effect on the second phase of polling on May 7, as JD(S) does not have a strong presence in the Northern Karnataka region.”