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Karnataka Election: Ten Data Points That Could Determine The 2023 Outcome For BJP, Congress, JD(S)

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Karnataka election results will be declared on May 13

Karnataka is all set to elect a new government, with polling scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 10. The verdict will be out on May 13 after a tight contest between the ruling BJP, which is desperate to hold on to its only citadel in the south, and the Congress, which has the opinion polls giving an edge. Also in the reckoning is JD(S), which is hoping to become the kingmaker in the event of a hung assembly.  

Here are 10 data points that one should observe as they could have a bearing on the election results.

1. Turnout In State 

Turnout plays a key role in any elections. Normally, a higher turnout is associated with high anti-incumbency and the voters’ preference for a regime change. A lower turnout, meanwhile, is usually associated with pro-incumbency and the current dispensation’s ability to retain power. In the last three elections, in 2008, 2013 and 2018, the voting percentage only saw an increase, leading to the formation of a new government every time. 

2. BJP’s Vote Share To Seat Share Ratio

Despite having a lower vote share than the Congress, the BJP emerged as the single largest party thrice in 2004, 2008 and 2018. This happens because while BJP has a lower presence in the Old Mysuru region, its vote share is concentrated across other five regions, helping it win more seats vis-a-vis the opposition parties. 

3. Performance Of Swing Seats

There are 55 seats that have flipped from party A to party B, and then back to party A, in the last three elections. BJP currently holds 40 of these seats. How many it is able to retain will be key to the results in 2023. If these seats flip again, the ruling party’s chances could be jeopardised.

4. Who Wins Bengaluru Region

The Bengaluru region has 36 seats — 28 urban and 8 rural. While urban areas are generally considered BJP’s strong point elsewhere, it was the Congress that led in the urban seats of Bengaluru against the BJP in the last two elections. A comparatively poor performance of the BJP in Bengaluru was one of the prime reasons why it couldn’t cross the halfway mark last time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held roadshows in the region in the last few days. Its impact will be closely watched.

5. Vokkaliga Support For JD(S)

Vokkaligas are an influential community with 11% population, and have been voting for the Janata Dal (Secular) in state elections. However, they backed the BJP in general elections. Will they continue to vote for HD Deve Gowda’s party or back the BJP instead as the JD(S) fights for an existential crisis and also family feud? 


6. How Close-Margin Seats Perform

In the 2018 elections, on 60 seats out of 224, the victory margin was less than 5%. This meant more than one-fourth of the seats witnessed a very close contest. As many as 28 of these seats were won by the BJP, 23 by the Congress and 9 by the JD(S). Will the parties be able to retain the seats that they won just about? 

7. Who Wins Triangular Contests

While Karnataka is touted as a triangular contest, the JD(S) influence is limited to southern Karnataka only. In 58% of the seats, the contest is primarily between the BJP and the Congress. A contest is normally called triangular when all three parties score more than 20% vote share. There are only 34 such seats in Karnataka. How JD(S) performs in these seats is very crucial for its overall tally.

8. Will Quota Hike Bring More SC-ST Votes For BJP? 

The BJP government has increased reservation for Scheduled Tribes from 3 per cent to 7 per cent and for Scheduled Castes from 15 per cent to 17 per cent. STs account for 7% and SCs 17% of the population. They have been backing the Congress largely in state elections as they are part of the bigger ‘AHINDA’ social coalition created by Devraj Urs in the 1970s and recreated by Siddaramaiah in the 2010s. BJP hopes to make inroads into these communities on the back of this step. 

9. Can Shettar And Savadi Make A Dent Into BJP’s Lingayat Support?

The defection of former CM Jagadish Shettar and former deputy CM Laxman Savadi to the Congress from the BJP could upset the ruling party’s Lingayat support base. The Congress is playing it up as an insult to the community, while the BJP accuses them of treason. They claim both these leaders do not enjoy statewide appeal and may even not be able to win in their own turf. Optics are good for the Congress, but do they have substance? 

10. Withdrawal Of Minority Reservation 

The BJP has ended the 4% reservation for Muslims and re-allocated it equally among Lingayats and Vokkaligas. However, this has been stayed by the Supreme Court. The Muslim vote has been split among the Congress and the JD(S) in the state, in a 60:20 ratio. If the reservation issue consolidates the vote bank in favour of the Congress, with 4 out of every 5 voters backing the party like in the 2018 elections, it would add 2.5% to 3% vote share to the Congress. 

Cracker of an election is on the cards.

The author is a political commentator and SEBI-registered investment advisor.

Source: ABP News

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