Hassan Stunner: JD(S) candidate Prajwal Revanna trailing amidst #MeToo allegations

The high-stakes battle took a controversial turn in the final weeks of campaigning when multiple women came forward leveling allegations of sexual abuse against Revanna, the son of former Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

In a major upset in the Hassan Lok Sabha constituency, Prajwal Revanna of the Janata Dal (Secular) party is trailing Congress candidate Shreyas M Patel by a significant margin of 37,001 votes as counting continues.

The high-stakes battle took a controversial turn in the final weeks of campaigning when multiple women came forward levelling allegations of sexual abuse against Revanna, the son of former Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. The accusations ranged from inappropriate touching to demands for sexual favours, sparking outrage and a #MeToo firestorm on social media.

Despite vehement denials by Revanna and his party, the allegations appeared to have significantly dented his prospects in the JD(S) bastion. Patel, a former MP, has maintained a strong lead throughout the counting process in a constituency that was seen as a cakewalk for Revanna until recently.

Political analysts suggest the voter backlash over the #MeToo allegations coupled with anti-incumbency sentiments have drastically altered the political landscape in Hassan.

Revanna has rejected the allegations as a “malicious campaign” by his opponents. However, the sheer number of accusers, including a former party colleague, has lent credibility to the #MeToo charges.

If the trends hold, it would mark an ignominious defeat for one of the most prominent political dynasties in Karnataka politics. Revanna’s grandfather H.D. Deve Gowda and father H.D. Kumaraswamy have both served as chief ministers.

The Hassan result could have far-reaching implications on the fortunes of the JD(S)-Congress alliance in the assembly polls scheduled just months away. A debacle here would be a major setback for Kumaraswamy’s future chief ministerial ambitions.