The predictions of the ABP-CSDS opinion poll for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections should worry the Congress. Not only has the poll predicted that the BJP would emerge as the single largest party in terms of seats, 51% of the respondents have expressed that they want to see a change in regime in Karnataka.
The Congress has been claiming all along that there is no anti-incumbency in the state, but this '51%' statistic indicates that the claim may not be entirely true. Karnataka is a state where the anti-incumbency has played a major role in the past. Voters of the state have not given any government a second chance in a long time.
There are several things to cheer about for the Congress from the findings of the ABP-CSDS survey. 27% of the respondents are satisfied with Siddaramaiah's performance. With less than a month left for Karnataka Assembly elections, the ABP opinion poll has revealed that 30% of the respondents want Siddaramaiah to continue as the Chief Minister, while 25% want BS Yeddyurappa to become the CM. HD Kumaraswamy is at a distant third with 20% of the respondents preferring him as the CM. 43% of the respondents have voted for PM Modi in terms of popularity, while 28% have favoured Rahul. Another reason for the Congress to cheer about is that the poll has predicted that Congress would get 2% more vote share than the BJP.
Two opinion polls that came out in the last 15 days have predicted different outcomes for the Karnataka Assembly election, which is being dubbed as the biggest political battle of the year. What is, however, common in both the opinion poll predictions is that the JD (S) is likely to emerge as a kingmaker. Another common thing in both the opinion polls is that Karnataka is heading for a hung assembly.
The India Today-Karvy opinion poll released on April 13 predicted that the Congress would bag most seats, while the ABP-CSDS has today predicted that BJP would bag most seats. In the India Today opinion poll, the Congress is pegged to bag anywhere between 90-101 seats, the BJP is likely to get between 78-86 seats, while the JD (S) is expected to win between 34-43 seats. If predictions of ABP-CSDS polls are to be believed, then BJP is likely to emerge as the biggest party and is expected to bag between 89-95 seats. The incumbent Congress party is likely to win anywhere between 85-91 seats. The majority mark in 224 seat Karnataka Assembly is 113.
Siddaramaiah has also made some astute political moves in the last two months. In February, he sent a proposal to the Centre for a separate Karnataka flag 'Nada Dhwaja', a move aimed at portraying his government as pro-Kannada. The move was welcomed by several Kannada groups. Siddaramaiah cabinet recently approved separate religion status to the Lingayat community, a move aimed at splitting the BJP's traditional vote base. BJP's chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa is a strong Lingayat leader and when he had quit the BJP in 2013, the saffron party fared badly in the elections.
All the opinion polls are fine, but the changes in voter mood can happen even in the last few days. What one must keep in mind is that PM Modi would start campaigning in the state from April 29. Modi is a popular leader in Karnataka, and the Prime Minister has such a charisma that he is capable of single-handedly change the narrative. Lingayat move by Siddaramaiah is being seen as a masterstroke, but how it would actually reflect on the election outcome is a matter of speculation.