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With caste playing a key factor, keen contest on in Karnataka

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Bengaluru, Apr 13: Speak elections in Karnataka and the conversation is incomplete until the caste factor is discussed. Caste plays a major factor in the Karnataka elections and the support of the Lingayats, Vokkaligas, OBCs, SC and STs becomes extremely crucial.

With caste playing a key factor, keen contest on in Karnataka

The primary vote bank for the Congress has been the SCs, Muslims and Christians. In the case of the JD(S), the party relies heavily on the Vokkaliga votes.

Looking back at the 2014 elections, the BJP had won 17 seats, while the Congress and JD(S) bagged 9 and 2 respectively. The BJP drew a large number of votes from the Lingayats and upper caste Hindus.

In 2014, the BJP got 58 per cent of the Lingayat votes, 32 per cent from the Vokkaligas, 60 per cent of the upper caste Hindu votes and 42 per cent each from the ST and OBCs.

The Congress on the other hand, got 65 per cent of the Muslim votes, 24 per cent from the Lingayats, 24 per cent from Vokkaligas, 49 per cent of the SC votes and 64 per cent of the Christian votes. The JD(S) on the other hand got 38 per cent of its votes from the Vokkaligas, 12 per cent each from the SC, OBC and Lingayat votes.

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This time around the JD(S) and Congress are contesting together. The two parties would hope that there is no division in votes. They would also pin their hopes in the unification of the Vokkaliga, Lingayat, Muslim, Christian, OBC and ST/ST votes.

Karnataka would be polling on April 18. There are 28 seats up for grabs of which seven are reserved. Five are reserved for the SCs and two for the STs.

The BJP would focus most of its resources in the Mumbai-Karnataka and coastal regions, where it is very strong. The JD(S) is mainly restricted to the southern districts of the state, where the percentage of Vokkaliga population is very high. Congress is the only party to have a pan-Karnataka presence.

The state's most dominant population is the Lingayats and they have traditionally backed the BJP. The BJP would continue to capitalise on the anger the Lingayats have against Siddaramaiah, who had proposed a separate religious status for them ahead of the Karnataka elections.

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