The Lok Sabha constituency of Hassan, a part of the Old Mysuru region, is set for a major contest between grandsons of two political bigwigs. On the one hand, there is the incumbent Member of Parliament, Prajwal Revanna, grandson of former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda. Revanna is contesting on a Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) ticket.

On the other hand, there is Shreyas Patel of the Congress, grandson of Puttaswamy Gowda, an old rival of the former Prime Minister. In 1985, Puttaswamy, as an independent candidate, lost to Deve Gowda of the Janata Party, while contesting for an Assembly seat from Holenarsipur.

Subsequently, the two faced each other in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls with Puttaswamy getting the better of Deve Gowda, now from the JDS. What hurt the former PM more was not the 1.41 lakh margin of loss alone, but the fact that the victor was none other than his former confidante. Predictably, the news made headlines as Hassan was considered to be the JDS leader’s political fortress.

Deve Gowda has managed to win his seat from the constituency having been elected to the 12th ,14th,15th and 16th Lok Sabha as an MP. In 2019, he vacated the seat for Revanna.

Incidentally, Revanna contested successfully in 2019, as part of a JDS-Congress alliance candidate. This was the only seat that the JDS won in that election. The Congress fared no better that year. Its sole win came from Bengaluru Rural in the form of the incumbent MP D. K. Suresh Kumar.

This time, the JDS ,which has tied up with the BJP, has got three seats to contest from the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies which will go to the polls from the state. These include Hassan, Kolar and Mandya. In addition, Gowda’s son–in-law, Dr. C. Manjunath, a well known cardiologist will be contesting on a BJP ticket against D. K. Suresh, from Bengaluru Rural.

In other words, the Gowda family will be contesting this election from three seats, including Mandya, where the former PM’s son, H. D. Kumaraswamy, and current chief of the party, will contest. The seat was held by Sumalatha, an Independent candidate.

The Congress candidate, Shreyas Patel, incidentally, lost to Revanna’s father, H. D. Revanna, in the 2023 Assembly polls from Holenarsipur,albeit with a narrow margin.

According to a section of the electorate in Hassan, this could be a tough fight between the Congress and the JDS-BJP combine, even though Revanna’s reputation has not been encouraging in the constituency. The accusation against him is that he has virtually neglected the constituency, appearing only just before the polls.

Secondly, Revanna finds it difficult to ward off charges that there is no development worth the name in the constituency with the MPLAD funds also not being utilised properly. The JDS, however, has been quick to contest the claims.

This apart, Revanna could find the going tough also because despite the alliance, the BJP faces charges that its leaders are neglecting the common candidate’s public meetings. While disputing these allegations, the BJP claimed that its cadres would go out of their way to support Revanna.

In this connection the BJP is also quick to point out that its candidate, Manju, had polled 5.3 lakh votes in the 2019 elections. So, predictably, these votes would also now go to the alliance candidate, is the common refrain.

Having said that, the problem for Revanna, also comes from Preetham Gowda, former BJP MLA. Revanna, his father, and other senior leaders of the JDS have repeatedly tried to meet Preetham to seek his support, considering his influence in the constituency.

Till the time of writing, the BJP leader, who is also one of the general secretaries of the party, has not shown any inclination to support the alliance candidate.

Kumaraswamy and H. D. Revanna, however, are confident that BJP strongman B. S. Yeddiyurappa, and state unit president, B. Vijayendra, will manage to sort out the problems. Nevertheless, the uncertainty about BJP cadres’ support is troubling the JDS, rather the Gowda family.

The BJP leaders in Hassan were quick to voice their disappointment over Revanna’s nomination this time as, according to them, “he is facing anti-incumbency.”

They wanted Kumaraswamy to contest from Hassan instead. Their argument is simple: the alliance between the two parties in Hassan is not viable, more so when the JDS is fielding Revanna.

While on paper, the BJP has directed its cadres to support Revanna, Preetham has gone on record to say that while he would stand by his party’s decision, “I can’t force party workers to support a candidate who is not contesting from our symbol.”

In fact, the alliance partners fear that many BJP followers may instead support Shreyas Patel of the Congress, even if indirectly.

In fact, Patel’s candidature appears to have created more problems for Revanna. The young Congressman, according to BJP supporters themselves, has been welcomed by most voters in the constituency.

He hails from the traditional rivals of the Gowda family, namely, the Dasa Vokkaliga community. Apart from the Vokkaligas, Veerashaiva Lingayats form a decisive vote bank here. They form a part of the 17 lakh voters in Hassan.

The Congress , on its part, is also banking on the minority communities which have frowned on the JDS-BJP alliance, arguing that they may also support its candidate when it comes to the crunch.

Patel, 32, lost to H.D. Revanna, from Holenarsipur in the 2023 Assembly polls by a narrow margin, Accordingly, the Congress feels that its candidate may get the necessary sympathy vote this time.

Going by the present situation, the Hassan seat could prove a tough one for Revanna, for now, despite the Gowda family’s sway over it. Nevertheless, the fight between the two youngsters would be worth watching.

Significantly, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Revanna defeated his nearest rival, A. Manju of the BJP, bagging 6.7 lakh votes, though his rival polled a sizable number of votes, exceeding five lakhs.

In the 2014 election, Deve Gowda won the Hassan seat , against A. Manju, polling 5.09 lakh votes. His rival was then fighting on a Congress ticket.”

The BJP candidate, on his part, received almost a lakh votes less, showing that despite the loss to the Gowda family, the party still enjoys huge support.

If the alliance manages to capitalise on its combined support base, it could end up smiling in the end, claim its supporters though the final picture will be clear only on June 4, the day of the results.