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Karnataka elections: New, undecided and young voters determine candidate selection list

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    The list of aspirants is never ending and parties in Karnataka are having a torrid time in finalising the list for the forthcoming Assembly Elections 2018. The Congress and the BJP wants to leave nothing to chance are trying to put together their best candidates.

    The screening process in Karnataka is particularly very strict. With the prospects of the parties swinging and the elections likely to be a close call, the parties want to ensure that only winning candidates are in the fray.

    Karnataka elections: New, undecided and young voters determine candidate selection list

    There are several considerations that are being taken into account while selecting the candidates. For starters, all parties would be eyeing the 60 lakh new voters in the state. This is a huge number in itself considering it accounts for 12 per cent of the state's electorate. Further statistics also show that one-third of the electorate is a young voter.

    The BJP which is in the process of finalising its list of candidates has already taken the above two factors into consideration. It would bank heavily on the new voters and also look to target the young electorate. The Congress too has adopted a similar strategy. Both parties are looking for younger candidates to woo the young voters.

    This is important for both parties since both Siddaramaiah and B S Yeddyurappa, the Chief Ministerial candidates of the Congress and BJP are aged 69 and 75 respectively.

    Trends have shown that the younger voter does not always prefer an older leader at least in recent times. Hence it would be important for both the parties to overcome that factor and field younger candidates.

    Congress strategy:

    The Congress has adopted a tough screening process while selecting its candidates. The high application fee fixed by the party has however not deterred the aspirants from applying.

    The party has set up a screening committee and its senior leader Madhusudhan Mistry is in charge. For every candidate, he has a tough set of questions and unless the test is passed, there is no way that the candidate would get a chance to throw his hat into the electoral ring. In addition to this various caste equation based on a survey are also being taken into account.

    Congress leaders say that while these equations are in play, there is also another key factor. If the party even has an iota of doubt that a candidate may lose, then he is being kept out of the race. This is particularly being applied in those constituencies where there the call is a close one.

    The BJP strategy:

    The BJP would bet on bagging the young, undecided and new voters. There is also news that the party is unlikely to give a ticket to sitting MPs. The exception would, however, be made in the case of B S Yeddyurappa who is a sitting MP.

    The party feels that an anti-incumbency factor could come into play if sitting MPs are given tickets. Instead, the party would choose young candidates and if the need is fresh faces as well. The older generation of leaders are likely to be avoided in the selection process and are likely to accommodate in administrative roles in the party. The party is also toying with the idea of giving the former KJP candidates tickets.

    It may be recalled that in 2013, the KJP led by Yeddyurappa had broken away from the BJP and contested the elections. The BJP had fielded 223 candidates and polled around 62 lakh votes. The KJP, on the other hand, polled 30 lakh votes after it fielded 204 candidates. However, prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the KJP merged with the BJP and the results in Karnataka paid rich dividends for the party.

    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

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