How people will vote in the Karnataka assembly elections would be interesting to see. In the past decade, the voting pattern in the state has more or less remained the same.
The BJP has always bagged a lion's share of the Lingayat votes while the Vokkaliga votes were divided between the Congress and JD(S). In the case of the upper caste votes, it has been in favour of the BJP while the lower social bloc votes have been bagged by the Congress. The Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis have lent their support to the Congress traditionally.
Before crunching the numbers, the pertinent question to be asked if this voting pattern that Karnataka has witnessed for a decade will continue or not. 2013, however, cannot be taken as a case study especially when it comes to the Lingayat votes since it was divided between the BJP and KJP owing to a Yeddyurappa walk out.
The 2008 voting pattern:
A study that was conducted by the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS) suggests that the BJP had in 2008 bagged 51 per cent of the Lingayat votes under the leadership of B S Yeddyurappa. The Congress got 25 per cent while the JD(S) bagged 15 per cent of this vote share in 2008.
When it came to the Vokkaliga votes, the JD(S) bagged 40 per cent while the Congress and BJP got 25 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. For the Congress, the Muslims have been the biggest supporters. The party bagged 65 per cent of the Muslim votes in 2008. This was followed by 50 and 44 per cent from the Dalit and Adivasi community respectively that polled in favour of the Congress. The BJP, on the other hand, bagged 20, 25 and 11 per cent of the Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim votes respectively.
Will voting pattern change in 2018?
There are two very important factors in 2018. Firstly the BJP is a united unit and this the party would hope will help rope in the Lingayat votes. Dr. Sandeep Shastri, leading psephologist says that in 2013, the BJP and KJP together polled 70 per cent of the Lingayat vote.
The BJP would be hoping to retain that or better its performance this year. The BJP has in some elections even polled 81 per cent of the votes. However this time there is a slight twist to the tale and the religious minority issue is what will help decide the outcome of which way the Lingayat votes would swing.
Dr. Shastri says that the entire objective of this exercise was to divide the Lingayat votes so that it affects the BJP. It is a political move to drive a wedge. The question that needs to be raised is whether this move is enough to divide the community. The leadership may be divided on the issue. But the question is whether it would translate down to the common man, he also says.
It is a conservative community whose religious practises are closely intertwined with Hinduism. I am not sure if this move by the Congress in Karnataka will cut into the votes of the common man in the community. Dr Shastri also adds.
The Modi factor:
The Karnataka campaign will be seeing a lot more of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming days. He is scheduled to address at least 25 rallies over a span of 40 days in the run-up to the elections which will be held on May 12.
It is clear that Karnataka votes heavily on community lines. Will Modi be able to have an impact on the voter? Dr. Shastri says that when it comes to Modi it will not be about one community or caste. He cuts across all these factors.
However, the bigger factor here is that this is a big test of the Modi charisma. This is this his first big test in the south of Vindhyas, Dr Sandeep Shastri also says.
|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|