This time, it’ll be straight contest in Karnataka
Bengaluru: Karnataka will see straight contests in the Lok Sabha elections after three decades between the Congress-JD-S combine and the BJP.
The state will witness a two-phased polling on April 18 and April 23 in 14 constituencies each out of 28 seats across the southern state.
“Unlike in the past elections when parties had advantage over the other two in triangular contests, voter turnout in each constituency will determine which of them will win more seats this time,” a political analyst told IANS.
With the ruling Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) fielding joint candidates in all the 28 parliamentary seats under a pre-poll tie-up against their arch rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a higher turnout in their bastions may fetch them more votes than the other.
As per the seat-sharing arrangement, the Congress is contesting 21 seats and the JD-S 7, with 4 in the first phase and 3 in the second phase.
Though the ruling allies bet on their joint candidates getting more votes with no division this time, the BJP hopes to benefit from a higher turnout in its bastions where the JD-S presence is not as much as in the old Mysore region.
“Even in the past three general elections since 2004, we have won more seats than the Congress and JD-S separately or together. Though triangular contests would have benefited each party in their bastions, we hope to get more votes due to consolidation and our presence in 104 assembly segments,” BJP spokesman G. Madhusudhan told IANS.
In the May 12, 2018 assembly elections, the BJP won 104 seats, the Congress 80 and the JD-S 37 in the 225-member lower house, including one nominated member.
The Congress and JD-S forged a post-poll alliance and formed the coalition government on May 23, 2018 to keep the BJP out of power.
Of the 28 Lok Sabha seats, including 5 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and two for the Scheduled Tribes (STs), BJP won 17 in 2014, 19 in 2009 and 18 in the 2004 general elections.
Of the remaining, Congress won 9 in 2014, 6 in 2009 and 8 in 2004, while the JD-S bagged 2 in 2014, 3 in 2009 and 2 in 2004 respectively.
“As the BJP continues to be strong in the coastal, central and northern regions, in parliamentary polls, a higher turnout will benefit it more as its main rival is the Congress than the JD-S, which is confined to the southern region, as evident from the results and voting patterns in the past,” the analyst said.
Karnataka is considered the gateway for the BJP in the south of Vindhyas and the only state in South India to have come to power on its own in 2008.
Though BJP came to power for the first time in February 2006 when the JD-S broke away from the Congress and formed a coalition government with it for 20 months till October 2007, the saffron party could not rule the state when its turn came to head it for the nest 20 months as the JD-S withdrew its support, leading to mid-term assembly polls in 2008.
“Even though the ruling allies have kept our party out of power by forming an unholy post-poll alliance, the non-performance of the 10-month-old coalition government, bickering between them, infighting within the Congress and the absence of chemistry at the cadre levels will benefit us as the people do not want a similar coalition government at the Centre,” Madhusudhan asserted.
Belying the BJP’s high hopes or expectations, the ruling allies feel consolidation of their secular votes and the stability of their coalition government, with pro-farmer policies like farm-loan waiver and welfare schemes for the poor will make them not only retain their seats but wrest more from the BJP.
“As our combined share of voting percentage in parliamentary and assembly elections have been more than that of BJP, we will benefit more from straight contests this time, as the people are angry with the BJP-led NDA government due to lack of jobs for lakhs of youth, rural distress owing to fall in the income of farmers,” Ramesh Babu of the JD-S told IANS.
While the BJP bets on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his leadership and sthe achievements of the NDA government to win at least 20 seats, the Congress hopes the party’s ‘revolutionary’ manifesto and its assurances of equitable growth will get it more seats, benefiting from the non-division of secular votes from all sections, including SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities.
“Notwithstanding what pre-poll surveys, opinion polls or pundits say, we will secure a majority along with allies and other secular parties to form a stable and progressive government at the Centre. Wait for the actual results on May 23,” Congress official Ravi Gowda quipped.(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at email@example.com)