CM Bommai seeks fourth consecutive term from Shiggaon

11:32 AM May 04, 2023 | PTI |

Shiggaon in Haveri district has emerged as a high profile constituency in this Assembly election, with the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai seeking re-election for the fourth consecutive time from the segment. The Congress has not been able to win the seat, once considered its stronghold, since 1999. The JD(S) and independent candidates won from here in 1999 and 2004 respectively.


Bommai first contested the Assembly elections in 2008 as a BJP candidate, after quitting Janata Dal (United). Shiggaon has a sizeable Muslim population, and has elected a Muslim MLA in the past. The Congress has fielded Yasir Ahmed Khan Pathan from the constituency, while Shashidhar Yeligar is the JD(S) candidate.

The Congress had initially announced a ticket for Mohammad Yusuf Savanur, President of Anjuman-e-Islam of Hubballi from Shiggaon, but subsequently replaced him by fielding Pathan, a former Zilla Panchayat member from Bommanahalli in neighbouring Hangal taluk.

In 2018, Bommai polled 83,868 votes, defeating Congress’ Sayed Azeempeer Khadri, who secured 74,603 votes, by 9,265 votes. In the 2013 and 2008 polls, Bommai won by defeating the Congress candidate Khadri by a margin of 9,503 votes and 12,862 votes, respectively. Khadri is said to be upset over the Congress’ denial of ticket to him this time.

According to supporters of the Chief Minister and BJP workers, things may be easy for Bommai this time because of the fact that he is the Chief Minister, in addition to developmental work in the constituency, and lack of ”strong opponent.” While some feel that the Bommai government’s decision to scrap four per cent reservation for Muslims under OBC list, may cause some worry, as there is a sizeable Muslim population, his supporters and BJP workers claim that the Chief Minister, has a good rapport with leaders of the community here and also his developmental work will ”come to his rescue”.


Confusion in the Congress over the candidate till the last minute has led to some amount of disgruntlement among a few Muslim leaders, which may in a way benefit BJP. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded Mehaboobsab Kalebag. There were indications that the Congress may field former Minister Vinay Kulkarni from Shiggaon.

State Congress President D K Shivakumar too had indicated in this regard, but that was not to be. Many in the constituency hold a view that had Kulkarni, a Panchamasali Lingayat (a Lingayat sub caste) contested, it would have been a tough fight for Bommai, a Sadar Lingayat.

Things were looking a bit ”shaky” for Bommai in Shiggaon, a few months back, with Panchamasalis up against the BJP government demanding higher reservation. However, the government’s decision to create a separate reservation category for all Lingayats and hiking their quota by another two per cent, along with attempts to placate the community’s leaders and seers, seems to have paid off for now.

In fact to capitalise on the Panchamasali angst against the ruling BJP that existed earlier, the Congress had planned to field Kulkarni against Bommai. JD(S) candidate Yeligar is a Panchamasali. This is a ”crucial” election for Bommai from Shiggaon, as he is not just a MLA candidate, but also Chief Minister, who is leading the BJP government in the state.

Until the last moment, till his candidacy was announced by the party, there was intense speculation that Bommai may contest from some other segment, despite his denial. This had forced the 63-year old CM to make an emotional pitch of loyalty to the people of Shiggaon on the day he filed nomination. He had said, ”I have served mother Karnataka honestly…you (people) are the ones who nurtured me and will save me, I will serve you till my last breath. When I die, I should be buried in Shiggaon soil.”

Bommai, leaving no stone unturned to woo voters, has been constantly campaigning in the constituency on and off, along with travelling across the state. Also, Kannada film star Sudeep, who shares a close bond with him, had campaigned for the Chief Minister, along with BJP national President J P Nadda on the day of filing nomination. In the Chief Minister’s absence, as he will have to campaign across the state, his wife Channamma Bommai and son Bharath Bommai are extensively campaigning for him.

Stating that he has worked for the all-round development of Shiggaon and will continue to do so, Bommai said, ”I have used the position I have got for the betterment of the constituency and state, people are aware of the development here like roads, lakes and tanks, community halls, schools, hospital, temple. There is peace and harmony among all communities here and it has to continue.”

People will vote for development, he said, expressing confidence about winning with a margin of over 25,000 votes, as many ”new people” have come forward to support him. Congress candidate Pathan said, there is anti-incumbency in the constituency and people are unhappy.

”So I’m confident that people will support me.” JD(S)’ Yeligar, who is concentrating on youth, said there is a lot of unemployment in the constituency. ”I’m seeking votes with the promise to skill and provide opportunities for youth. I am confident they will support me.” B

ommai, who is the son of former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Parivar veteran late S R Bommai, started his political career with the Janata Dal and was member of the Karnataka Legislative Council twice (in 1998 and 2004) from Dharwad local authorities constituency. He had also served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Chief Minister and as Deputy Leader of Opposition, before quitting Janata Dal (United) and joining BJP in 2008. Bommai, who served as Home Minister in the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government since 2019, became the Chief Minister in 2021, after the veteran leader stepped down from the post.


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