Karnataka Elections 2023: Here Are Five High-Voltage Contests To Look Out For

Who is pitted against who? Which constituencies will see an interesting electoral battle?

Karnataka Elections 2023: Here Are Five High-Voltage Contests To Look Out For
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After crossovers, caste arithmetic, and careful considerations, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have announced all their candidates, for the Karnataka Assembly elections due on 10 May.

The result of the highly charged election, which comes just a year before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, will be announced on 13 May for the 224-member Assembly.

Here are five interesting contests to look out for:



Incumbent Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, had won the Shiggaon constituency in 2018 with a margin of 9,265 votes and defeated Congress candidate Sayed Azeempeer Khadri. This was Bommai’s third win from the seat since 2008.

After initially nominating Mohammed Yousuf Savanur, president of Anjuman-e-Islam Hubballi-Dharwad, Congress replaced him with Yasir Ahmed Khan Pathan, a local in Shiggaon. Pathan however does not seem to have made any headlines in the recent past and information about him remains obscure.

Bommai on the other hand is the son of former CM of Karnataka SR Bommai. He and his father are only the second father and son duo after HD Devegowda and HD Kumaraswamy to become the Chief Ministers of Karnataka.

Speaking to The Quint, a Congress functionary said that Pathan is “quite popular.” However, his nomination seems to have demoralised the grand-old party’s workers who believe Pathan will fail to challenge Bommai’s stature, even though the BJP government is riddled with electoral obstacles in the state.

On 19 April, Bommai began campaigning in his constituency and held a roadshow with BJP National President JP Nadda and Kannada film star Kichcha Sudeep. Addressing the crowd, Bommai said, “I have been blessed with your faith for 15 years. Our bond is divine. No one can come in the way of this. Till my last breath I will serve you.”



Once the right-hand man of BJP heavyweight leader and national general secretary CT Ravi, HD Thammaiah had quit the party and joined Congress in February this year.

He will now go head-to-head with his former mentor and contest against CT Ravi from Chikkamagaluru constituency.

In 2018, Ravi had won from the communally-tinged Chikkamagaluru seat with a margin of 26,314 votes, defeating Congress candidate BL Shankar and marking his fourth win from the seat.

Belonging to the Vokkaliga community, Ravi rose as a BJP youth leader in the post-Babri era (in the 1990s) and has stuck to the Hindutva agenda by protesting against of halal food, hijab, 18th Century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan, and has allegedly given several hate speeches against Muslims.

HD Thammaiah on the other hand was the Chikkamagaluru constituency's district convenor of the BJP. A Lingayat leader and a party worker for over 17 years, he had served in various capacities in the BJP, but got disillusioned when prospects of getting a ticket looked slim.

Thammaiah, while quitting BJP, had said, “I have been working in the BJP and had fulfilled my responsibilities in various posts since 2007, but the current political developments have disappointed me. As a result, I wish to resign from my post as convener of the district unit as well as primary member of the BJP. I wish to express gratitude to all office bearers, heads and members of all boards, forums and units of the BJP, who helped me in my work for 17 years.”

While the BJP had won four out of five seats from the district in the 2018 elections, the party seems to be losing out on the Lingayat vote-base – an important dominant caste credited with the BJP's growth in the state.


Hubballi-Dharwad Central

“Fed up” with the BJP, former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar quit the saffron party on 16 April, and resigned as MLA, after being denied a ticket for the 10 May Assembly elections.

Shettar, who is responsible for the growth of the BJP in Uttara Kannada, then joined the Congress in presence of the party's national president Mallikarjun Kharge and other senior leaders.

Shettar was the second tall Lingayat to resign and join the Congress in recent days after Laxman Savadi, further denting BJP's voter base.

As a BJP candidate, Shettar had won from the Hubballi-Dharwad central seat in 2018, defeating Congress candidate Dr Mahesh Nalwad with a margin of 21,306 votes, marking his sixth win in the Assembly elections.

With another tall Lingayat leader’s defection, the BJP has now put Mahesh Tenginkai on the battlefield.

Tenginkai is a prominent leader of the Lingayat community, with a stronghold in the Hubbali-Dharwad region. He has been associated with the BJP for over two decades and has held various positions in the party organisation.

After Shettar’s crossover, Tenginkai said, “BJP wants the new generation to enter politics. I am confident of winning from Hubballi-Dharwad Central seat…Caste should not be an agenda in politics.”

Meanwhile, BJP has claimed that their new candidate will win the Assembly seat with a margin of a whopping 50,000 votes. However, it remains to be seen whether Shettar’s ‘clean image’ and popularity can be defeated.



Congress leader and former CM Siddaramaiah currently serves as the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.

In 2018, Siddaramaiah had contested from two Assembly seats. He won the Badami seat from Bagalkot district with a slim margin of 1,696 votes, defeating BJP candidate B Sriramulu. In the Chamundeshwari seat however, he lost to Janata Dal (Secular) candidate GT Devegowda by a margin of 36,042.

Regardless, the Varuna constituency which was carved out in 2008, has since been held by the Congress party.

To counter Siddaramaiah's immense popularity, the BJP has pitted state Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development V Somanna.

In 2018, Somanna had won the Govindraj Nagar seat in Bengaluru Urban area, defeating Congress candidate Priya Krishna by a margin of 11,375 votes.

Interestingly, Siddaramaiah will be contesting Varuna, where his younger son Yathindra is the sitting MLA. 

Now, while Somanna, who like R Ashok is contesting from two seats, assured people of Varuna that he will bring positive change in the constituency. Siddaramaiah has ridiculed the BJP candidate stating that he is an "outsider" and has "no links" to the constituency.



Ramanagara district has four Assembly constituencies – Kanakpura, Ramanagra, Channapatna, and Magadi. The district has remained a bastion of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) since the 2004 Assembly elections, except for the Kanakpura seat.

While JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy is the sitting MLA in Channapatna, his wife Anitha Kumaraswamy is the sitting MLA from Ramanagara seat – the same seat from which JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda had won to become the Chief Minister in 1994.

On the other hand, DK Shivakumar, known as Congress’ ‘moneyman,’ has not lost a single election since 1989 and had won the Kanakpura seat thrice since 2008 (and Sathanur four times before the delimitation exercise). The state Congress president is also credited with playing an important role in the formation of the JD(S)-Congress coalition in 2018.

To give Shivakumar a run for his money, the BJP has fielded Karnataka Minister of Revenue R Ashok, a six-time MLA for the Padmanabhanagar (formerly Uttarahalli) constituency in the Bengaluru Urban area, from two seats – Kanakpura and Padmanabhanagar.

While BJP has not been able to make inroads in the district, it will be interesting to see if Ashok’s loyalty will be transferable. Further, the saffron party has called in the big guns to campaign for their candidates. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath is expected to soon campaign for Ashok in Kanakpura.

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Topics:  BJP   Congress   Siddaramaiah 

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