The Vokkaliga community in Karnataka comprises around 12 to 15 per cent of the electorate. The community has traditionally voted for the JD(S) and Congress and has been crucial to any party wanting to form the government.
OneIndia had reported that the over-emphasising of the Lingayat issue could have an impact on the Vokkaliga votes. Siddaramaiah's decision to recommend religious minority status to the Lingayats has been seen as an attempt to eat into the BJP's vote share.
The Lokniti-CSDS survey which was out on Monday suggested that the Congress was not making any major gains out of this issue. The other interesting aspect thrown up by the survey suggested that the BJP, on the other hand, was making some gains where the Vokkaliga votes are concerned.
These could be concerns for Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah who is seen as a strong leader in the Mysore belt which is dominated by Vokkaligas. Many Vokkaligas are in fact upset with Siddaramaiah's over-emphasising of the AHINDA and Lingayat issue. The Vokkaligas feel that they were not beneficiaries of any of the schemes doled by Siddaramaiah which were aimed towards appeasing the minorities, backward classes and Dalits.
The Vokkaligas felt that they were given a raw deal by the Congress despite voting for them in 2013. One small instance was the appointment of Neelamani Raju as state police chief. The Vokkaligas felt that their man, Kishore Chandra ought to have occupied that post.
Siddaramaiah is contesting against G T Deve Gowda, a one time friend who is in the JD(S). It was Gowda who helped Siddaramaiah consolidate the Vokkaliga votes in the previous elections as a result of which he won Chamundeshwari five times. The Vokkaligas feel that Siddaramaiah dumped his one-time friend, a Vokkaliga, who had helped him all along.
Analysts say that it is this consolidation of the Vokkaliga votes against the Congress that prompted Siddaramaiah to chose Badami considered to be a safe seat.
With most parts of Northern and Central Karnataka backing the BJP, the votes in the old Mysore region become crucial. The old Mysore region which has a dominant Vokkaliga population has backed both the Congress and JD(S). The Congress has also had the Ambareesh worry on its head who has made it clear that he would not contest the elections from Mandya, the heartland of the Vokkaligas. The Congress understands his clout in the seven assembly constituencies in Mandya and would hope that he would not campaign against the party. The Congress by roping in two JD(S) leaders into its fold from Mandya had hoped to improve its tally. In 2013, the party had won 2 seats from Mandya. With the inclusion of the two JD(S) men it had at least hoped to better its tally to four.
The consolidation of the Vokkaliga votes against the Congress and the Ambareesh factor included sure would have the Congress worried. The biggest gainer of these developments would be the JD(S) largely and BJP to a certain extent.
|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|