Tumakuru Lok Sabha constituency: Unique caste mix eludes easy predictions in this seat

All three parties — Congress, BJP, and Janata Dal (Secular) — have a strong base in the constituency and electoral battles are intensely fought.

Updated - April 19, 2024 06:13 pm IST

Published - April 19, 2024 01:42 am IST - Tumakuru

V. Somanna, BJP candidate

V. Somanna, BJP candidate | Photo Credit:

In Karnataka politics, where the land-owning Vokkaliga and Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities play a dominant role in the southern and northern regions, respectively, the Tumakuru Lok Sabha constituency is considered unique as both communities have considerable vote share that determine the electoral outcome.

The constituency is also unique since all three parties — Congress, BJP, and Janata Dal (Secular) — have a strong base and electoral battles are intensely fought. The former Minister V. Somanna, a Lingayat, who replaced incumbent four-time MP G.S. Basavaraju, is pitted against the former MP S.P. Muddahanume Gowda, a Vokkaliga, of the Congress in the constituency that will go to the polls on April 26. Mr. Gowda, who was asked to vacate his seat in favour of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 2019, was miffed and joined the BJP in 2022 only to return to the Congress fold recently.

In the constituency, while the BJP is publicising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s contribution, the Congress has countered it through its “guarantees”, besides raising the Centre-State issues over drought relief and tax sharing.

The Tumakuru’s political landscape has altered a bit over the past year with three-time JD(S) legislator for Gubbi S.R. Srinivas joining the Congress to win his fifth term and two-time legislator for Tumakuru Rural and Madhugiri D.C. Gowrishankar also joining the Congress. Post the JD(S) allying with the BJP, several JD(S) mid-level Muslim leaders have also moved to the Congress. Similarly, the former Congress MLA H. Ningappa has joined the JD(S). The BJP has trouble too since the former Minister J.C. Madhuswamy, angry at being denied the ticket, is learnt to have stayed away from campaigning.

Of the eight Assembly constituencies, the Congress represents four while the BJP and the JD(S) have two each. Two of the prominent Cabinet Ministers G. Parameshwara and K.N. Rajanna are from Tumakuru.

JD(S) workers, who worked with Congress workers to campaign for Mr. Deve Gowda in the last election, who eventually lost to Mr. Basavaraju by a narrow margin, are now forced to coordinate with the BJP. “Though there were initial misgivings, we have started campaigning together,” said Chinne Gowda, a JD(S) worker in Turuvekere.

Contrasting opinions

The constituency is witnessing contrasting opinions of electors, with land-owning families and others dismissing the guarantees and pointing out at the increased prices of liquor and stamp paper. “To fund the guarantees, the government has made our lives expensive. Instead, it should have increased drought relief,” said Jayanna of Belgarahalli in Tiptur. However, Parashuram, a kitchen utensils vendor in Tiptur, said the guarantees had helped his family as there is some stable income, especially during the drought when his sales have come down. Raghu, an auto driver at Madhugiri, complained that his income had come down after Shakti scheme (free bus travel for women), but acknowledged that his wife was receiving the ₹2,000 a month under Gruhalakshmi besides free power under Gruhajyothi and money for free rice.

 S.P. Muddahanume Gowda, Congress candidate

 S.P. Muddahanume Gowda, Congress candidate | Photo Credit:

At K.B. Cross, women from economically weaker sections expressed happiness over the guarantees. “We don’t need to go to moneylenders now. Women are now balancing the family expenditure better as we get about ₹3,000 a month additionally through guarantees,” said Sowbhagya, who is in her 40s and sells clothes at a weekly market. In her late 60s, Gangamma, a resident of Mavinahalli in Gubbi and a small-time vegetable vendor, said: “People like us depend on daily sales... I am a widow and childless. I can at least buy medicine now.”

Caste calculation

Besides Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva-Lingayats, Muslims, Kurubas, Gollas, Tigulas, and Kunchitigas appear to be politically important apart from the SCs and OBCs in Tumakuru.

The Congress believes that it can win the seat due to lack of coordination among BJP and JD(S) workers besides the reach of guarantees. Lokesh, a Congress worker at Koratagere, claimed, “The BJP won last time since many Congress workers voted for the party. This is not the case now. Compared to Mr. Somanna, we believe Mr. Mudduhanume Gowda is accessible.”

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