The Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency was a strong Congress bastion in the state since the first Lok Sabha polls held in 1951. The district has given the state four chief ministers viz Kadidal Manjappa, S Bangarappa, J H Patel and B S Yeddyurappa. The Congress has won the prestigious seat 10 times, while the BJP managed it just twice.
The constituency is home to several noted personalities including socialist leader Shantaveri Gopala Gowda and Kagodu Satyagrah leader H Ganapathiyappa, a host of writers like Kuvempu, U R Ananthamurthy, Prof G S Shivarudrappa, M K Indira, Na D’Souza, Poornachandra Tejaswi and P Lankesh. Also former governor Rama Jois, scholar Mattur Krishnamurthy, theatre personality K V Subbanna, farmer leader Kadidal Shamanna, historian S R Ranganatha Rao, industrialist T V Narayana Shastry, singer Shimoga Subbanna, progressive farmer Prafullachandra and actor Sudeep are also from the district.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress bagged four segments, followed by the BJP (3) and the JD(S) (1).
Farmers and lower middle class people make up the large chunk of the population. Going by caste equations, Sagar, Sorab, Byndoor and part of Thirthahalli constituencies are dominated by Idiga and Billava voters, followed by minorities and Brahmins. Shimoga constituency is dominated by Muslims and Brahmins, while Shikaripur has a considerable number of Lingayat and Banjara voters, Bhadravati has Vokkaligas and Shimoga Rural (Reserve) constituency has equal number of Lingayat and backward class voters. Unlike previous elections, in the recent elections caste has played a major role. The Congress, in a bid to wrest the seat from the BJP, has fielded Manjunath Bhandari, who has a close association with the party’s central leadership. Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa is contesting the Lok Sabha polls for the first time.
Though BJP has sitting MP B Y Raghavendra, it did not want to field him again due to the fear of losing the constituency. With an eye on the Idiga community and to harvest sympathy towards S Bangarappa, the JD(S) has fielded Geetha Shivarajkumar. She is the daughter of late Bangarappa and wife of actor Shivarajkumar. Debutant Aam Aadmi Party has fielded an architect and social worker Sridhar Kallahalla. Former MLA B Dharmappa is contesting on a JD(U) ticket.
Other prominent candidates include- Kunaje Manjunath Gowda (BSP), Mohammad Fayaz (SJP) and B K Shashikumar (Karunada Party).