Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has a negligible presence in Karnataka. We can liken it to BJP's presence in Kerala. The party polled 2.74 per cent of votes in 2008 and emerged as the fourth player but won no seats. However, poll alliance with the Janta Dal (Secular) has surprised many in the state. Bahujan cadres believe that the party will create history in the state with the victory of State President N Mahesh in Kollegal assembly constituency, Chamarajnagar district.
What makes the electoral battle in Kollegal assembly interesting?
Kollegal is reserved for Schedule Category (SC) candidates. The total number of voters Kollegal is 1, 93, 293. Male voters account for 1,00,659 and 98, 920 female voters. From 1957 to 2013, the Congress has won 10 times, the BJP only once in the 2009 bypoll. Interestingly, the electorate of Kollegal has never elected a candidate for the second term since 1989.
BSP's N. Mahesh was in second place in the last assembly elections. In 2013, S.Jayanna of Congress defeated N. Mahesh by over 10,000 votes. Jayanna polled 47,402 votes, ie 32.36 per cent of vote share and Mahesh secured 37209 votes, 25.40 per cent. N. Chamaraju of JD(S) was polled mere 4392 votes with 3.00 per cent.
This year, the alliance between former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) and Mayawati's BSP may be a big boost for the BSP. But the alliance may not help Mahesh in Kollegal because the JD (S) has negligible Vokkaliga votes. Even if BSP's Mahesh gets 3 per cent Vokkaliga votes, he may not match the winning margin.
According to psephologist Mahadeva Prakash, N Mahesh is very strong in Kollegal. He has organised the party very well. He may win this time. Also, BJP has its advantage, if former MLA Nanjunda Swamy contests the elections. He will garner Dalit votes and may get Lingayat, backward classes votes which is crucial for the winning election.
"No doubt, Dalit votes will be split among BSP, BJP and Congress, Lingayat and backward classes votes will play a crucial role. Either BJP or BSP may spring a surprise in this elections, says Mahadeva Prakash."
A lot depends on how the powerful Lingayat community votes. Lingayat voters may not fully back Congress since the Congress recommended for separate religion status for Lingayat community.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|