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BJP’s big test as Vokkaliga dominated south Karnataka region polls today

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New Delhi, Apr 17: It would be a battle royale in Karnataka. 14 constituencies are polling today in the southern part of the state and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is up against the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular(JD-S), which is considered to be stronger in the region.

BJP’s big test as Vokkaliga dominated south Karnataka region polls today

Out of the 14 seats, 14 fall in the Old Mysore region, which is known to be a Vokkaliga stronghold. Polling is also being held in Shimoga and Davangere.

In the Old Mysore region, it is the Vokkaliga who call the shots with them making up for 11.82 per cent of the population. The region has never been a stronghold for the BJP and most of the votes have been polled by either the Congress or JD(S), which have a strong backing of the Vokkaligas.

The old Mysore region comprises both Bangalore urban and rural, Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Chamrajnagar, Ramanagar, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru. It is a crucial zone and is the biggest sub-region in the state of Karnataka.

As Karnataka readies to vote, all parties have their share of troubles

One of the key constituencies in this region is the Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha parliamentary seat. The last time Prathap Simha 5,03,908 votes with a vote share of 43.45 per cent. He defeated A H Vishwanath of the Congress who ended up with a vote share of 40.72 per cent. The JD(S) represented by Chandrashekaraiah ended up with a vote share of 11.95 per cent.

If one were to add up the vote share of the JD(S) and Congress, it is clear that they are ahead of the BJP. However in alliances, the chemistry needs to reflect on the ground and this has been a challenge for the JD(S) and Congress not just in Mysore-Kodagu, but in Mandya as well.

In the Mysore seat, C H Vijayshankar is facing problems as the JD(S) workers are upset that their candidate did not get a ticket. For the alliance it would be an uphill task to ensure that the votes of both the parties end up with the Congress candidate. This hostility of the JD(S) workers towards Vijayshankar is working in favour of the BJP.

The BJP would also be mindful of the fact that in 2014, it put up an impressive performance thanks to the huge Modi wave. A survey conducted by the CSDS in 2014 revealed that every 10 votes in Karnataka would not have voted for the BJP in 2014 had it not been for Modi.

In the 2008 Karnataka assembly elections, the BJP put up a good performance in the Old Mysore region and secured 27.5 per cent of the votes. However in 2013 the percentage was down to 16 and the KJP that had broken away from the BJP ended up with 6.7 per cent in this region.

The southern region of Karnataka has 51 assembly constituencies. In most of these seats those candidates who finish first and second get around 70 per cent of the votes. In almost all occasions, it has been the JD(S) and Congress, which have finished first in this region and the BJP has been a distant third.

While the numbers are stacked up in favour of the JD(S) and Congress in this region, the big question is will the political chemistry work on the ground level. What would matter is the transfer of votes in an alliance, especially when both the JD(S) and Congress have been traditional rival eyeing a similar a vote bank.

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