Tricky Hassan ticket | JD(S)‘ problem is also of balancing sub-castes

Giving ticket to Bhavani Revanna at the cost of Swaroop, from Dasa Vokkaliga sub-caste, could prove costly, says Kumaraswamy

March 01, 2023 09:37 pm | Updated March 02, 2023 12:02 pm IST - Bengaluru

H.P. Swaroop

H.P. Swaroop | Photo Credit: PRAKASH HASSAN

While the never-ending drama over Janata Dal (Secular) ticket for Hassan seat has so far been seen through the prism of power play within the family of party patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda, those in the know say an important component of the plot is the intricate Vokkaliga sub-caste equation in the region.

What the party is unable to resolve is the demand of Bhavani Revanna, wife of Holenarsipur legislator H.D. Revanna, to be the party’s nominee in Hassan constituency even as former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has favoured H.P. Swaroop. The public exchange over the selection has embarrassed the party, while the issue has remained unresolved.

According to political observers, Hassan Assembly is the only constituency where Dasa Vokkaligas, a sub-caste of the powerful land owning Vokkaliga community, is in dominant numbers among the Vokkaligas. Mr. Swaroop is a Dasa Vokkaliga and Mr. Deve Gowda is a Gangatkar Vokkaliga. The sitting legislator from Hassan, Preetham Gowda from the BJP, is a Dasa Vokkaliga too. In the last about three decades, the constituency has been represented by Dasa Vokkaligas such as H.S. Prakash and K.H. Hanumegowda.

Family plus sub-sect issues

Mr. Kumaraswamy also acknowledged the delicate caste equation, and indicated that he will not upset the existing equation. “When we are receiving favourable responses from voters, I will not allow one constituency to affect the party’s fortunes. I am also aware that the entry of another family person could hurt the party in terms of political optics, and hurt our prospects in about three constituencies in Hassan alone.”

Bhavani Revanna

Bhavani Revanna | Photo Credit: PRAKASH HASSAN

While Dasa Vokkaligas and Gangatkar Vokkaligas have marital ties, the difference comes to fore politically in Hassan Assembly constituency. The community whose voter number is estimated between 2.5 lakh and 3 lakh in the district is concentrated in Hassan constituency, and are also present in neighbouring Arkalgud, Sakleshpur, and Holenarsipur constituencies in Hassan, and K.R. Pete Assembly constituency in Mandya district.

In the larger narrative of Vokkaliga politics, Hassan constituency is seen along with Sira constituency in Tumakuru district where a Kunchitiga, another Vokkaliga sub-caste, is seen as playing a key role in electoral outcomes. In the Vokkaliga heartland districts of Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, Tumakuru, and Ramanagar, Gangatkars remain dominant. “Dasa Vokkaliga is being elected from Hassan due to their big numbers. Mr. Deve Gowda had carefully balanced these sub-caste equations,” pointed out a long-time political observer.

The JD(S) leadership is said to be looking at a larger picture for the district where its vote base could be eroded among Dasa Vokkaligas with the entry of Ms. Bhavani. It could also resonate in the Lok Sabha polls for the lone JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna in 2024.

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