North Karnataka’s Haveri, largely an agrarian land known for its cardamoms and chillies, is witnessing an interesting battle between former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and lesser-known Congress confidant Anandswamy Gaddadevaramath, son of a former MLA.

For Bommai, a four-time MLA and former CM of State, it is a debutante Lok Sabha poll, with a redemption arc at stake after the BJP lost Assembly polls in 2019, and his leadership was severely criticised. While much is not known about Congress’ fresh face, Gaddadevaramath, son of former Congress MLA GS Gaddadevaramath,. He has previously lost two elections and now stands a chance of making a mark.

The BJP has a stronghold in the region, which is dominated by Lingayats. Since the formation of the constituency in 2008, following delimitation, from 2009 to 2019, BJPs MP Shivkumar Chanabasappa Udasi has represented the region, who recently retired from electoral politics. Furthermore, it is also Bommai’s home district.

However, in the Assembly polls a year ago, Congress got hold of seven out of the eight assembly seats in the constituency. The Haveri seat is spread over both Gadag and Haveri districts. In the May 2023 Assembly elections, of the eight assembly seats that comprise this LS seat, seven — Gadag, Ron, Hanagal, Haveri, Byadagi, Hirekerur, and Ranibennur — were won by Congress. BJP won just one, Shirahatti.

Even though historically the region has favoured the BJP, Congress is playing a better hand to win the pool this time by fielding Gaddadevaramath, a Lingayat face, unlike in the past when it had fielded Muslim candidates. The candidate is banking on the delivery of five guarantee schemes announced during the Assembly polls to woo voters.

“All leaders and party high command have kept faith in me, so I have been given a ticket. The state’s government schemes and the efforts of our party workers and leaders will help me win this election,” Gaddadevaramath stated previously in his media interview. 

On the flipside, Bommai, even though he has an upper hand in the region, is striving for a much-needed win and is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the same. The two major hurdles he faces are Congress’ guarantees and unhappy Panchamsalis, an important subsect of Lingayats, whose demands for reservation have not been fulfilled.

The Panchamsali’s had demanded to be included in the 2A reservation category, which guarantees a 15 per cent quota in education and jobs. The ‘seer’ of the community, who has been unhappy with the BJP, holds power to influence the votes of the community. While Bommai potentially can’t immediately pacify this sect with the matter of reservations being subjudice, he has been actively communicating that the guarantees have been counterproductive because of improper implementation. Bommai is also banking on the “Modi factor” to work in his favour.

“The voters have decided to hand over the nation to leaders who are capable of administering the nation ably. Seeing the performance of Modi in the last ten years, the people of all sections of society are supporting him,” he said in his campaign trail. Bommai also noted that he believes people in all the villages will remember the work done by him for the people in his constituency and vote for him accordingly.