Hassan Lok Sabha constituency: Emotions run high as grandsons of old rivals take on each other in this prestigious seat

Shreyas M. Patel and Prajwal Revanna are locked in a poll battle in Hassan this time just as their grandfathers in the past

Updated - April 12, 2024 01:28 pm IST

Published - April 10, 2024 09:23 pm IST - Hassan

Shreyas Patel, Congress candidate

Shreyas Patel, Congress candidate | Photo Credit: File photo

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, now 91, among the senior-most star campaigner in the current Lok Sabha elections, is seen in the villages of Hassan Lok Sabha constituency. He addresses multiple meetings in a day, braving the hot sun, in a bid to ensure that his grandson, Prajwal Revanna, 34, is re-elected.

The amount of time and hard work the former Prime Minister is putting into the constituency, which has been the strong base of his party Janata Dal (Secular) for decades, shows that the fight this time is quite tough.

Prajwal Revanna, JD(S) candidate

Prajwal Revanna, JD(S) candidate | Photo Credit: File photo

The Congress has chosen to field 32-year-old Shreyas M. Patel, considering the fight he gave to former Minister H.D. Revanna in Holenarasipur constituency in the Assembly polls held last year. Mr. Revanna won with a margin of little over 3,152 votes. Mr. Shreyas is grandson of late G. Puttaswamy Gowda, who fought against Mr. Deve Gowda in multiple elections. The political rivalry between the two families has continued for the third generation.

In 2019, Mr. Prajwal was the candidate of the JD(S)-Congress coalition. This time, the scene has reversed, with the party aligning with the BJP, which fought against him in the last election. Interestingly, while in the last election he was assured of Muslim votes, this time he is banking on Lingayat voters, who are considered traditional supporters of the BJP in the constituency.

Of the eight Assembly constituencies in Hassan, the JD(S) won Hassan, Holenarasipur, Arkalgud, and Shravanabelagola in last year’s Assembly polls. The BJP and the Congress won two each. Mr. Prajwal, being the candidate of the JD(S)-BJP combine, in principle, enjoys the support of six MLAs. On the other hand, the Congress candidate has the support of only two MLAs, representing Arsikere and Kadur.

Considering this numerical strength, the JD(S) is well ahead of the opposite candidate. However, the JD(S) faction is well aware of the factors that might go against their candidate. A major section of BJP leaders, who have always fought against the JD(S) to build their careers in politics, are in no mood to campaign for Mr. Prajwal. The party’s senior leaders had to intervene multiple times to calm down the local BJP leaders.

Apology sought

Besides that, the JD(S) candidate has been facing allegations of ignoring certain issues that have bothered voters. Many in parts of Sakleshpur, Alur, and Belur argue that Mr. Prajwal, being in Delhi, hardly spoke about man-animal conflict, a huge issue locally. He also faces allegations of not being accessible over the past five years. Mr. Prajwal has over the past weeks often ought apology if he has “committed any mistakes”. On the plus side, the JD(S) has a strong base in the constituency and Mr. Deve Gowda’s campaigns are a big draw. He has been making appeals to save his party and support his grandson.

The Congress workers are banking on the guarantee schemes that the State government implemented and the support of the Congress party’s traditional vote bank, which includes minorities, Dalits, and backward classes. However, the Congress faces lack of workers at the grassroots. The last time the Congress won the Hassan Lok Sabha seat was in 1999. The party has not won Sakleshpur and Hassan constituencies since 1994. Similarly, it has had no representative from Holenarasipur and Shravanabelagola Assembly constituencies since 2004.

Despite these organisational difficulties, Congress supporters believe that their candidate will win because a major section of voters are against “one-family supremacy”. Mr. Shreya’s mother, Anupama Mahesh, who had contested against H.D. Revanna for Holenarasipur constituency and lost earlier, during a roadshow in Hassan, made an emotional appeal to the voters to support his son this time.

People of Hassan, many believe, are swayed by emotions. Whose emotions will prevail remains to be seen.

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