Will Karnataka witness a hung assembly?


  • C-Voter opinion poll predicts a hung assembly – INC (102), BJP (96), JDS (25), Others & Independents (1). Half way mark is 113.
  • In terms of vote share, the Congress and the BJP are neck to neck with 36.6% and 35.9% vote shares. JD (S) is touted to get 18.8 % while others 8.7%.
  • In the history of Karnataka polls, public have given a hung verdict only twice, once in 1983 and another time in 2004.
  • Noted political scientist Dr. Shastri explains the reasons for hung assembly to OneIndia.com.
    • In 1983, state was transiting from a one-party domination to a competitive party.
    • In 1983 the Congress was defeated, but the people were not sure if the then Janata Party was the competitor.
    • By 1985, it was clear and the Janata Party got the majority.
    • Between 1983 and 2004, the competition was between Janata Party and Congress.
    • In 2004, the two-party competition system changed and BJP came into the picture.
    • The year 2004 saw the BJP emerging as the single largest party. It was in competition with the Congress and the Janata Dal (S).
  • Shastri cites two reasons why Karnataka will not witness a hung assembly.
    • Given the nature of competition in Karnataka, today and the fact that the Janata Dal has been limited to small pockets of influence would ensure that the party would end up a distant third.
    • This would mean that the key competition would be between Congress and BJP.
    • The manner in which it is panning out indicates that the two parties are the mainstay in the competition.
    • ‘This year sees no political transition taking place. That is why I say that it will not be a hung assembly. A hung assembly is seen when the state is in political transition.
  • Impossible is possible in politics.
  • While it is true that people are increasing giving clear mandates, post 2014, J&K, Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya have thrown up hung assemblies with no clear winner.
  • If there is a hung assembly in Karnataka, people will come up with new theories as to why such a situation emerged.
  • Probability of hung assembly though is low in my opinion but can’t be ruled out.

 

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Rajasthan By-Poll Results suggest 2019 not a cake walk for BJP


Vasundhara Raje has received a huge jolt going into an election year. The Congress party has snatched all the 3 seats from BJP where by-elections were held last month – Ajmer, Alwar and Mandalgarh. In the 2 Lok Sabha seats of Alwar and Ajmer, Congress was leading by huge margins of 1.94 lakhs and 0.8 lakhs respectively. The scale of victory is massive. In Mandalgarh assembly seat which falls in Bhilwara Lok Sabha constiuency, Congress won by over 12,000 votes, which is considered to be a good margin in assembly elections. BJP had won the seat even in 2008 when Congress came to power. Since 1980, in every Lok Sabha by-poll in the state, incumbent party has retained the seat.

BJP has recorded a massive loss of vote share across seats. In Ajmer (-15%), in Alwar (-20%) and Mandalgarh (-23%). Party was not able to even retain the Mandalgarh seat where Congress faced a strong rebel candidate who recorded 20% vote share. This resounding win should make Sachin Pilot happy who worked tirelessly for these polls. However, chances of him being announced as CM candidate over Ashok Gehlot are slim. Gehlot emerged as a key election strategist in Gujarat and he is likely to get the nod.

The results are along expected lines and despite the fact that Raje has been playing the hard Hinduatva card for some time. The state has been a laggard in economic indicators of growth, inflation and fiscal position in the last five years and ranked at the bottom, 15th out of big 16 states, in an analysis carried out by CRISIL.

Source: CEO, Rajasthan Website

5 Key Themes Emerge from These Results

  1. Trend is likely to continue and probability of BJP losing Rajasthan in 2018 is very high

The state goes to polls in Q4 of this year. Rajasthan has a history of throwing out incumbent governments every five years since the last 25 years. These results suggest trend is likely to continue unless something extraordinary happens in favour of Raje.

Rumours have been doing the rounds for quite some time that BJP central leadership is unhappy with her performance. Staring at prospect of loss it has been desirous of making a change at the top, pushing Raje to the centre and replacing her with Om Mathur. But Raje has resisted the moves and she has a strong control over the MLAs. Modi and Shah are not just mindful of loss in state just months before Lok Sabha elections which will send a wrong signal to voters, but also about poor prospects in central elections. BJP won all the 25 seats in Lok Sabha elections 2014 and today’s results show it will struggle to retain its performance.

  1. Popularity rating of Modi under pressure?

Modi factor was very strong in Rajasthan. 42% BJP voters in a CSDS post poll survey said that they would not have voted for BJP had Modi not been the PM candidate. The national average was just 27%. Hence the loss also indicates loss in popularity ratings of Modi at least in Rajasthan. These results are in stark contrast to a Pew Survey which showed 88% Indians have a favourable view on Modi on the basis of a mere sample size of less than 3,000.

Modi supporters on twitter even today position this loss as a loss due to Vasundhara. Elections were held for Lok Sabha seats, national issues prevailed on voters minds, national leaders canvassed for candidates, then how come only Raje is to blame. Why didn’t voters discard Raje factor and show their trust in Modi? Food for thought!  Modi factor couldn’t sway the result in favour of BJP at least on these 2 seats.

Would not have voted for BJP had Modi not been the PM candidate (Source: CSDS Survey)

rajasthan4.png

  1. NDA performance in many states has peaked, impossible to repeat the same performance

NDA performance has peaked in many states in 2014, leaving little scope for further growth – UP (73/80), Bihar (31/40), Rajasthan (all 25), Gujarat (all 26), Maharashtra (42/48), MP (27/29) and Chhattisgarh (10/11) – to name a few. The 10 states shown in below graph accounted for 80% of NDA strength. It is likely that there will be some losses, my estimate is 30-50 seats could be lost in these States. Party has to look for compensating these losses from West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but it won’t be enough. Its foray into North East though spectacular may not help much as there are very few seats up for grabs in central elections.

rajasthan5.png

Source: http://www.politicalbaba.com

  1. Party likely to face double anti-incumbency in many states

The spectacular performance of BJP after Lok Sabha elections where it won state after state may actually turn out to be a double edged sword for its prospects in 2019. The party is likely to face what is termed as ‘double anti-Incumbency’. State governments can’t accuse central government of having a partisan attitude. Central government can’t accuse states of failing to carry on their development agenda, sitting on funds etc. So no chance of fooling voters through a blame game.

  1. Cracks beginning to appear in NDA

Some of the allies are not very happy with Modi’s style of functioning. He is no Vajpayee. Strong arm tactics and BJP’s ambition to spread its wings puts it in direct contest with its allies. Shiv Sena which has 18 seats, has already announced it will contest Lok Sabha elections alone. It’s impossible for BJP to win all these 18 seats contesting alone. NCP could provide a shoulder, but it would seriously damage BJP’s stand on corruption. TDP which has 15 MPs has voiced similar concerns due to lack of support from center and BJP’s growing closeness with Jagan’s party. Some junior allies like RLSP and HAM in Bihar as per Hindu report also are unhappy. Nitish entry into NDA is likely to spoil the existing seat sharing arrangement.

To conclude, results in Rajasthan though on expected lines, poses larger threat to BJP’s bid for power at the center in 2019. It just can’t back on TINA factor. Vajpayee lost despite no alternative. It also cannot bank on early elections. Vajpayee’s fate in 2004 after calling for early polls would serve as a stern reminder.

‘Yeh jo public hai yeh Sab jaanti hai’. 

(The article was first published in TheQuint.)

Lok Sabha & subsequent state elections performance suggests a tight contest in Karnataka


  • BJP was leading in 132 assembly segments in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, comfortable majority out of 224 seats.
  • Congress was leading in 77 and JDS in 15.
  • While BJP bagged 43.4% vote share, INC was not far behind with 41.2% and JDS a distant third with 11.1%.
  • Lok Sabha elections is contested on nation level issues while state elections on local issues.
  • BJP on an average has received 24% less vote share in subsequent state elections held after 2014 Lok Sabha. (3 states where its vote share increased has been excluded from analysis).
  • This means it could end up with 35% vote share in 2018 state elections.
  • 42% people in the state would not have voted for BJP had Modi not been the PM candidate. This implies Modi factor was 18.2% and adjusted BJP vote share 25.2%.
  • Modi factor will also be visible during state elections, so the latter is not the correct way to arrive at estimated vote share.
  • BJP performance Lok Sabha vs Subsequent State Elections

bjpvote share1

 

Source: www.indiavotes.com, http://www.politicalbaba.com

  • INC on an average has received 15% less vote share in subsequent state elections held after 2014 Lok Sabha. (6 states where its vote share increased has been excluded from analysis).
  • This means it could end up with 35% vote share in 2018 state elections.
  • A neck and neck situation.
  • Congress performance Lok Sabha vs Subsequent State Elections

bjpvotehsare2.png

         Source: www.indiavotes.com, http://www.politicalbaba.com

 

Can JDS-BSP alliance spoil BJP and Congress chances in Karnataka?


  • To bolster its prospects, JDS has entered into an alliance with Mayawati’s BSP. Party is eyeing 36 reserved seats for Scheduled Caste category.
  • JD(S) had won 10 of these in 2013 state elections. In 6 seats it finished runner up. Out of this in 3 seats it lost by less than 700 votes.
  • Overall it lost 14 seats by margin of less than 5,000 votes where BSP support can make a difference, party strategists feel.
  • BSP will be contesting 20 seats and JD(S) 204 seats. Dalits (SCs) account for 17% of population and are the largest caste block in the state.
  • JD(S) had received 13% support of the community in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Dalits have been traditional supporters of Congress in the state (51% in 2008 elections).
  • BSP usually is able to transfer votes to alliance partners as it has dedicated vote bank. In 1996, BSP and Congress had an alliance for UP assembly polls. While BSP’s tally didn’t increase, Congress won 33 (+5) of the 126-seats it contested.
  • BSP’s best performance in Karnataka was in 2008 elections where it bagged 2.7% vote share. Its influence is in 15-20 odd seats.
  • Gowda is smelling of a hung assembly situation in the state as predicted by C-Voter. Then the 20-25 seats party is expected to win will play a crucial role. In a triangular contest 2%-3% vote share could play a crucial role.
  • It remains to be seen this alliance makes a bigger dent into Dalit vote bank of which party – BJP or Congress.
  • The seats reserved for SC/ST has increased from 35 in 2004 to 51 currently. BJP has won majority of these seats both in 2004 and 2008. However, in 2013, INC won majority of these seats on the back of AHINDA support.

scstvote.png

 

Performance of Congress Government in Karnataka


Economic Front

  • Karnataka is amongst the top 5 states that have successfully managed high growth levels while keeping their fiscal deficits below 3% in the last five years (FY13-17) as per CRISIL.
  • It is ranked 6th among Top 16 states on the basis of growth, inflation and fiscal position.
  • GDP Growth 7.6% vs All India 6.9% (rank 5), Debt to GDP ratio below All India 24% (rank 3), Fiscal Deficit to GDP ratio below FRBM target of 3% (rank 4).

crisil1.png

  • State runs a revenue account surplus.
  • Karnataka is one of the better performing states in terms of fiscal position. The only downside risk to the state’s fiscal position is the Rs. 8,615 of farm loan waiver announced by it (spread over 2-3 years starting fiscal 2018). (Source: CRISIL)
  • However, it is the worst performing in terms of inflation, 7.7% vs All India 6.8% in last 5 years.
  • Few people understand Debt to GDP, Fiscal Deficit terms, but everybody feels the pinch of high inflation.
  • It is one of the top issues in each elections. Will it be Congress govt.’s undoing in 2018?

crisil2.png

Social Indicators

  • Karnataka’s HDI rank has improved from 9 in 2007-08 to 8 in 2014 as per Mint report. However, both Congress and BJP would need to be credited for this.
  • Karnataka has a better HDI score of 0.6176 than All India score of 0.6087 for 2015. It is ranked 8th in India.

Law & Order

  • The rate of crime (IPC) in Karnataka has increased from 224.7 per lakh of population in 2013 to 237.2 in 2016.
  • Karnataka’s share in total crime in the country has remained at 5% levels.
  • However, increase in crime in Bengaluru is a big concern. City has overtaken Mumbai to take the second position among metropolitan cities in 2016.
  • Crime in city has increased by 28% in 2016 vs 2015, recent high profile case being Gauri Lankesh in day light murder.

 

A Bitter Contest in Karnataka – Siddaramaiah vs Yeddyurappa


  • A very bitter battle on the anvil. Congress and BJP taking potshots at each other.
  • Yeddyurappa and Siddaramaiah continuously quarrelling on twitter. Runs the risk of key issues being ignored.

 Congress backing separate religion demand of Lingayats

  • BJP is trying to consolidate Hindu votes and ensuring Congress AHINDA plan fails.
  • Siddaramaiah is countering this move by backing a demand by a section of community to accord separate religion status to Lingayats.

Hindutava versus the Kannada pride

  • BJP’s plans to polarise the Hindu vote by playing the Hindutava card is being countered by Siddaramaiah by playing the Kannada pride card.
  • He has raised issues like separate flag for state, reviving and preserving the language, Hindi signboards and the Mahadayi water sharing issue to ignite the Kannada sentiment.
  • This is very similar to the Gujarati Asmita card played by the BJP in Gujarat.

Gujarat versus Karnataka model

  • Siddaramaiah is aggressively positioning the achievements of his government. Charts, messages showing how Karnataka has performed better than Gujarat are being widely circulated on social media.
  • This way the Chief Minister is not shying away from directly taking on the BJP’s best governance model.

 Mission vs Commission Government

  • Modi has accused the Congress of spreading “lies and repeated lies”.
  • He accused Siddaramaiah is running a 10% commission government.
  • Urged people to vote for a ‘mission’ government.

Congress changes strategy from ‘localization in Gujarat’ to ‘Presidential style’ in Karnataka 


  • Congress is buoyed by its performance in Gujarat elections and Rajasthan by-polls.
  • Rahul ran an effective on the ground campaign in Gujarat focusing on local issues.
  • Partly succeeded in making the contest into 182 mini contests rather than for ‘one state’ as projected by Modi.
  • However, Karnataka is a different ball game.
  • Here Congress is the incumbent and will have to battle natural anti-incumbency.
  • Rahul realizes that a localized campaign here would not work.
  • Because there will always be a road, a school, a hospital which would not have been built.
  • Certain manifesto promises are work in progress, not yet fully implemented. Some are difficult to implement because of practical considerations.
  • Congress strategy is Effort to keep issues at the state level, project good work of Siddaramaiah govt.
  • Strategy is to contest on a combined leadership strength of Siddaramaiah his popularity among AHINDA complemented by Rahul’s increasing popularity ratings.
  • Essentially converting the elections into Presidential style.
  • Rahul began his campaign in Ballary attacking Modi and Congress at national level.
  • Attempt is to play on anger which is slowly developing against centre – jobs, agri distress, Rafael deal, Nirav Modi scam.
  • In same way, Modi talked about everything apart from Gujarat model in elections there.
  • However, this strategy entails a risk of pitting Rahul vs Modi.

 

Karnataka Elections will set the tone for state elections in 2018 & Lok Sabha elections in 2019


  • The election season for big states in 2018 starts with a fascinating triangular contest in Karnataka.
  • These elections are crucial for all key players – BJP, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular).
  • For Congress, because this is the only big state, sending more than 15 MPs to Parliament, where the party is in power. A loss here would hasten the process of a ‘Congress-mukt-Bharat’.
  • The elections is crucial for BJP as Karnataka was the first state in South India where the party stormed to power in 2008.
  • In many ways this acts as party’s gateway to southern part of India. Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s regional party JDS is the third player, which is going full throttle to scuttle the plans of both the national parties and emerge as the kingmaker in a hung assembly.
  • These elections will set the tone for elections to three states – Madhya Pradesh (MP), Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (CG) – slated to be held at the end of the year and the Lok Sabha elections to be held in Q1-Q2 2019.
  • The 3 states are all ruled by BJP. Rajasthan has a history of throwing out incumbent governments every five years, recent by-poll results indicate the public mood.
  • In both MP and CG, BJP has been in power for c.15 years, a long enough period, to develop natural anti-incumbency. The popularity of the two leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh provides a cushion against this anti-incumbency.
  • If Congress is able to retain Karnataka then it would provide a fillip to its claim in the three states and central elections of next year.
  • If BJP manages to win / form government in Karnataka, it will provide it with significant momentum to neutralize the anti-incumbency in the three states of MP, Raj and CG.
  • It will also strengthen its claim to win maximum seats in Parliament in 2019 and neutralize some of the negative news about agri-distress, unemployment, NPAs,  Nirav Modi scam etc.
  • So, this election is very important and has larger implications…..

Caste plays an important role in Karnataka politics


  • Caste plays an important factor in Karnataka as in most parts of the country.
  • Lingayats and Vokkaligas accounting for 29% of the population are the most dominant & influential groups of the state.
  • The SC/ST account for 24% of the total population, the Kurubas comprise 8% and Muslims comprise 13%.
  • Karnataka has till date had five chief ministers from the Vokkaliga community, and seven have been Lingayats.

karnataka3

Source: www.politicalbaba.com

  • There were four CMs from the backward classes while Brahmins managed to hold the top spot in Karnataka twice.
  • Though Lingayats and Vokkaligas belong to OBC group, they are like the forward caste of OBCs (something like Kurmis of Bihar).
  • The present Assembly has 103 MLAs (almost half of total strength) from the two communities, 53 Vokkaligas and 50 Lingayats which is almost 2x of their population size.
  • Acronyms like LIBRA and AHINDA are commonly used terms in Karnataka politics.
  • LIBRA which is Lingayat plus Brahmins are anchor voting segments of BJP (18%).
  • AHINDA which is Alpasankhyataru, Hindulidavaru Mattu Dalitaru (Dalits, Backward Classes & Muslims) have traditionally supported the Congress (56% of population).
  • With Siddaramaiah’s entry in Congress, AHINDA backed the party in 2013 resulting in resounding victory.
  • The Vokkaligas (12%) have backed Deve Gowda’s JD(S).
  • While BJP CM candidate Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat, Deve Gowda and S.M. Krishna are Vokkaligas.
  • CM Siddaramaiah is a Kuruba. All belong to the OBC community.
  • Lingayats dominate in North Karnataka, Hyderabad Karnataka and Old Mumbai region.
  • Vokkaligas are the dominant peasant caste of Old Mysuru.
  • The Lingayats and Upper caste have traditionally voted for the BJP, OBCs, Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims for Congress and Vokkaligas for the JDS.

karnataka 2018.png

Source: CSDS Post Poll Survey 2014 Lok Sabha Elections

 

Karnataka exhibits a strong trend of throwing out incumbent governments


  • Since 1985, the state has never re-elected the incumbent party.
Year 1985 1989 1994 1999 2004 2008 2013
Chief Minister Janata Party INC Janata Dal (Secular) INC Hung

a. INC (1yr 245 days)

b. JD(S) (1yr 253 days)

c. BJP (7 days)

BJP INC

(Source: http://www.wikipedia.com)

  • Power changes hands at the end of every five years in Karnataka.
  • No chief minister has returned to power in Karnataka since Ramakrishna Hegde in 1985.
  • From 1985 to 1999 the power oscillated between Janata Dal constituents and Congress party.
  • The trend was broken in 2004 when people gave a hung verdict. Congress managed to retain Chief Minister’s chair with support of JD(S).
  • 2004-2008 was a period of instability and the state witnessed 3 Chief Ministerial tenures, one from each party.
  • In 2008, BJP won the state largely on the sympathy wave created due to JDS decision of not honuoring its commitment to coalition and pulling down Yeddyurappa as CM within a week.
  • The Lingayats and upper caste solidly backed BJP (33.86%) which emerged victorious despite getting lesser votes than Congress (34.76%).
  • The state returned to its trend of throwing out incumbent party in 2013 when Congress made a comeback due to split within BJP as Yeddyurappa and Reddy brothers contested independently.
  • Will this trend continue in 2018? If it continues, who will be the beneficiary – BJP or JD(S)?
  • Or will there be a hung assembly situation like in 2004?

Key Things to Know About Karnataka Elections


  • The population of the state is 6.1 crores, 61.33% rural and 38.67% urban.
  • Karnataka has 224 seats. 51 seats are reserved – 36 for SC and 15 for ST.
  • State is divided into six regions – Old Mysuru, Bengaluru city, Hyderabad Karnataka, Bombay Karnataka, Karavali and Central Karnataka.
  • Old Mysuru has the highest number of seats followed by Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka.
Region Districts No. of Seats
Old Mysuru Hassan, Mandya, Mysore, Tumkur, Kolar, Chamranjnagar 64
Bengaluru City Bangalore, Bangalore Rural 28
Hyderabad Karnataka Gulbarga, Bidar, Bellary, Raichur, Koppal 40
Bombay Karnataka Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Uttar Kannad, Haveri 50
Karavali (Coastal & Hills) Udupi, Dakshin Kannad, Kodagu (Mangalore) 19
Central Karnataka Devangere, Shimoga, Chikmangalur, Chitradurga 23
Total 224

 

  • In 2013, Congress and BJP got highest number of seats from Bombay Karnataka while JDS from Old Mysuru region.
  • Old Mysuru witnessed a tough fight between Congress and JDS as both Siddaramaiah and Deve Gowda belong to this region.
  • Bengaluru City witnessed a tough contest between Congress and BJP. BJP normally does better in urban areas across India.
Region Seats INC BJP JDS OTH
Old Mysuru 64 30 4 25 5
Bengaluru City 28 13 12 3 0
Hyderabad Karnataka 40 23 5 5 7
Bombay Karnataka 50 31 13 1 5
Karavali (Coastal & Hills) 19 13 3 0 3
Central Karnataka 23 12 3 6 2

History of State Elections in Karnataka


  • The state has been a fiefdom of Congress party since its inception in 1957.
  • Even in 1978, after Janata Party assault nationally, Karnataka was one of the few states which Congress managed to retain.
  • In 1983, the first non-Congress government was installed in the state, under the leadership of Janata Party’s Ramkrishna Hegde.
  • He was the last Chief Minister to have returned to power in the state.

Seat Share of Parties since 1985

Party 1985 1989 1994 1999 2004 2008 2013
INC 65 178 34 132 65 80 122
Janata Party / Janata Dal / JDS 139 24 115 10 58 28 40
BJP+ 2 4 40 62 84 110 40
KCP 10
KJP 6
BSRCP 4
IND 13 12 18 19 13 6 9
OTHERS 5 6 7 1 4 0 3
TOTAL 224 224 224 224 224 224 224

Source: Election Commission of India

  • In last 3 elections INC has recorded an avg. vote share of 36%, BJP: 32% & JD(S) 20%.
  • Congress vote share shows a cyclical pattern, it fell from 43.6% in 1985 to 34.3% in 1994. Then it increased to 40.8% in 1999 before falling to 34.8% in 2008 when BJP won. It has been on increasing trend since then.
  • JDS vote share plunged to 10.4% in 1999 from a high of 43.8% in 1989. This is also due to split of the various Janata Dal constituents. A section of JD named JDU became a part of BJP led NDA.
  • JDS vote share has stabilized since then and has been in the range of 19%-21%.
  • BJP’s vote share plunged to sub 20% levels in 2013 when Yeddyurappa and Reddy brothers contested independently bagging 9.8% and 2.7% vote share. Both have since then returned. BJP’s vote share has been in the range of 30%-34%.

Vote share of Parties since 1985

karnataka1

Source: www.indiavotes.com, http://www.politicalbaba.com

Notes:

  1. Vote shares have been adjusted to arrive at the true strength of the three parties.
  2. JDS was formed in 1999. 1985 vote share is of Janata Party, and 1994 of Janata Dal respectively.
  3. BJP vote share includes Janata Dal United vote share in 1999 and 2004. 2013 vote share of BJP includes vote share of Karnataka Janata Party formed by Yeddyurappa and BSRCP formed by Reddy brothers, as both have merged with BJP.
  4. 1994 Congress vote share includes Karnataka Congress Party votes as well.

 

Congress changes strategy from ‘localization in Gujarat’ to ‘Presidential style’ in #Karnataka2018 


Congress is buoyed by its performance in Gujarat elections and Rajasthan by-polls. Rahul ran an effective on the ground campaign in Gujarat focusing on local issues. Partly succeeded in making the contest into 182 mini contests rather than for ‘one state’ as projected by Modi.

However, Karnataka is a different ball game. Here Congress is the incumbent and will have to battle natural anti-incumbency. Rahul realizes that a localized campaign here would not work because there will always be a road, a school, a hospital which would not have been built. Certain manifesto promises are still work in progress, not yet fully implemented. Some are difficult to implement because of practical considerations.

Congress strategy is to keep issues at the state level and project good work of Siddaramaiah govt. Strategy is to contest on a combined leadership strength of Siddaramaiah banking on his popularity among AHINDA, complemented by Rahul’s increasing popularity ratings. Essentially converting the elections into Presidential style.

Rahul began his campaign in Ballary attacking Modi and Congress at national level. Attempt is to play on anger which is slowly developing against centre – jobs, agri distress, Rafael deal, Nirav Modi scam. In same way, Modi talked about everything apart from Gujarat model in elections there. However, this strategy entails a risk of pitting Rahul vs Modi.

 

 

#Karnataka2018: In AHINDA vs LIBRA contest, Vokkaligas hold the keys to government formation


The election season of big states in 2018 starts with a fascinating triangular contest in Karnataka. These elections are crucial for both BJP and Congress. For Congress because this is the only big state, which sends more than 15 MPs to Parliament, where the party is in power. A loss here would hasten the process of a Congress mukt Bharat, a point re-emphasized by Modi in two recent interviews. The elections is crucial for BJP as Karnataka was the first state in South India where the party stormed to power in 2008. In many ways this acts as the party’s gateway to southern part of India. Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s regional party Janata Dal (Secular) is the third player, which is going full throttle to scuttle the plans of both the national parties and emerge as the kingmaker. TV 9-C Voter poll predicts a hung assembly with Congress as single largest party.

Since 1985, the state has never re-elected the incumbent party meaning power changes hands at the end of every five years in Karnataka. From 1985 to 1999 the power oscillated between Janata Dal constituents and Congress party. The trend was broken in 2004 when people gave a hung verdict. Congress managed to retain Chief Minister’s chair with support of JD(S) under a formula for sharing the top post. 2004-2008 witnessed a period of instability and the state saw 3 Chief Ministerial tenures, one from each party. Will this trend continue in 2018? If it continues, who will be the beneficiary – BJP or JD(S)? Or will there be a hung assembly situation like in 2004.

Year 1985 1989 1994 1999 2004 2008 2013
Chief Minister Janata Party INC Janata Dal INC Hung (CM Tenure)

a. INC (1yr 245 days)

b. JD(S) (1yr 253 days)

c. BJP (7 days)

BJP INC

In the last three polls, Congress has maintained an average vote share of 36%, BJP 32% and JDS 20%. BJP won in 2008 despite recording a lower vote share than Congress (33.9% vs 34.8%).

Vote Share Performance of Different Parties

Party 1985 1989 1994 1999 2004 2008 2013
INC 40.8% 43.8% 34.3% 40.8% 35.3% 34.8% 36.6%
JDS 43.6% 27.1% 33.5% 10.4% 20.8% 19.0% 20.2%
BJP 3.9% 4.1% 17.0% 34.2% 30.4% 33.9% 32.2%

Source: www.indiavotes.comwww.politicalbaba.com

Notes: Vote shares have been adjusted to arrive at the true strength of the three parties.

  1. JDS was formed in 1999. 1985 vote share is of Janata Party and 1994 of Janata Dal respectively.
  2. BJP vote share includes Janata Dal United vote share in 1999 and 2004.
  3. 2013 vote share of BJP includes, vote share of Karnataka Janata Party formed by Yedyurappa and BSRCP formed by Reddy brothers as both have merged with BJP.
  4. 1994 Congress vote share includes Karnataka Congress Party votes as well.

Caste plays an important factor in Karnataka as in most parts of the country. Lingayats and Vokkaligas accounting for 27% of the population are the most dominant & influential groups of the state. Karnataka has till date had five chief ministers from the Vokkaliga community, and seven have been Lingayats. Though Lingayats and Vokkaligas belong to OBC group, they are like the forward caste of OBCs (something like Kurmis of Bihar & Yadavs of UP). The present Assembly has 103 MLAs (almost half of total strength) from the two communities, 53 Vokkaligas and 50 Lingayats. SC/ST account for 24% of population, Kurubas 8% and Muslims 13% of population.

Acronyms like LIBRA and AHINDA are commonly used terms in Karnataka politics. LIBRA which is Lingayat plus Brahmins are anchor voting segments of BJP. AHINDA which is Alpasankhyataru, Hindulidavaru Mattu Dalitaru (Dalits, Backward Classes & Muslims) have traditionally supported the Congress. With Siddaramaiah’s entry in Congress, AHINDAs fully backed the party in 2013 resulting in its resounding victory. The Vokkaligas (12%) have traditionally backed Deve Gowda’s JD(S).

While BJP CM candidate Yeddyurappa who is back in the party is a Lingayat, Deve Gowda and S.M. Krishna are Vokkaligas. CM Siddaramaiah and BJP’s Eshwarappa are Kurubas. All belong to the OBC community. Lingayats dominate in North Karnataka, Hyderabad Karnataka and Old Mumbai region. Vokkaligas are the dominant peasant caste of Old Mysuru.

Congress and BJP both have a start with a base vote share of 24% each, while JDS starts with 5%. Congress enjoying minimum half support of AHINDA and BJP 60% support of LIBRA. They both need additional 10%-12% to win. And they both are eyeing the balance 7% Vokkaliga vote. Even when BJP won Karnataka in 2008, majority of the community backed JDS (42%), followed by Congress (38%). BJP managed to get support of only 19% of the community.

BJP’s hopes to get a major share of the community vote in 2018 maintaining its 2014 Lok Sabha position where it bagged 38% of community votes as shown in graph below ahead of JDS (31%) and Congress (29%). This was partially due to Modi factor. 40% respondents in a CSDS survey said they would not have voted for BJP if Modi was not the PM candidate, the national average was 25%. However, when asked to rank the present Congress government in the state with the previous BJP government, six of every ten respondents in a CSDS survey during Lok Sabha elections, said that the present Congress government was far better.

Caste wise voting for 2014 Lok Sabha

karnataka 2018

Source: CSDS Report

BJP this time is banking on SM Krishna, who was inducted recently to sway the Vokkaliga vote. His image is though now of a retired politician and he lacks the same firepower he used to have. The IT raids on his son have annoyed him and he is reportedly sulking.

Siddaramaiah is proving to be a tough nut to crack for BJP. He has undertaken a massive caste census, results of which are not available publicly, but insider knowledge will help Siddaramaiah. He is also trying to create a wedge among the Lingayat voters by backing separate religion demand of a section of the community. How far this impacts the BJP support in these elections is questionable? My assessment is, it won’t impact much. However, his call for increase in reservation for SC/ST and OBCs in education and public sector services to 70% will ensure AHINDA stays put with Congress.

In the end, it all depends upon how much sway Deve Gowda still commands amongst Vokkaligas and who Vokkaligas vote for where JDS is not the strongest contender, i.e. in regions outside of Old Mysuru. JDS is expected to lose 2%-4% vote share and whoever manages to grab this will eventually win the elections. Currently its neck and neck situation!

(This article was first published in TheQuint.)

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