In Karnataka, Tiny Swing Can Make Huge Difference: Prannoy Roy's Analysis

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: The Congress and the JDS together will win 13 of Karnataka's 28 seats, according to a poll of opinion polls.

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Will the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka pull of a win this time as well?


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Fractured verdict of Karnataka polls may reflect in national election
  2. BJP might have an edge over the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress
  3. Data shows 5 per cent swing can make a big difference in this election

The fractured verdict of the assembly elections in Karnataka may reflect in the state's mandate for the Lok Sabha as well. Opinion polls suggest a tough fight, in which the BJP might have an edge over the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress, which joined hands last year in the state after the election to keep the BJP out of power and is continuing the alliance for the general elections.

The Congress and the JDS together will win 13 of Karnataka's 28 seats, according to a poll of opinion polls. That is an increment of only two seats from 2014, when the two parties had contested separately - the Congress had won nine and the JDS two.

The BJP, which had won 17 seats in 2014, is likely to drop two seats this time, opinion polls suggest.

Health warning: Opinion polls often get it wrong

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Data from previous elections, however, show that just a 5 per cent swing can make a big difference in this election. A swing towards the BJP will result in the party getting 20 seats, which is close to a landslide; the Congress and the JDS, if there is a 5 per cent swing towards them, can end up with 19 seats.

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Interestingly, Karnataka used to be a state that used to see landslides victories.A landslide victory is defined as the winning party getting more than double the seats than the next party.

That, however, has taken a downward trend in the last few elections. Data from previous elections shows that between 1952 and 2002, the state used to witness 88 per cent landslide victories. That margin came down to 67 per cent between 2002 and 2014.

Landslide victories stopped since the BJP became a prominent player in Karnataka and from a two-party contest, Karnataka became a three-party scrimmage.

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There are about four major factors that favour the BJP in the national election in Karnataka.

1) The in-fighting between the Congress and the JDS - the two allies, ever since forming a coalition government in September last year, have shown constant friction.
2) Karnataka has also historically voted for a different party at the state and the centre. Currently, the state is ruled by the Congress-JDS alliance.
3) Unverified reports also suggest that the money used for campaigning in Karnataka by the BJP is manyfold more than that of the Congress or the JDS.
4) Though there is no Modi wave like 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still very popular in Karnataka.

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The northern part of Karnataka is not considered a region where the Janata Dal Secular is very strong. The party has a base in southern Karnataka, in the belt where the dominant caste are the Vokkaligas, to which Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy belongs.The northern part of the state is dominated by Lingayats, which is a strong support base of the BJP. The party's tallest leader in Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat.

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Lingayats make up about 17 per cent of Karnataka's population while Vokkaligas are about 12 per cent. Karnataka has 84 per cent Hindu population and 13 per cent Muslims.

About 84 per cent Muslims in Karnataka vote for the Congress and the JDS, and the party also receives 68 per cent votes from the Vokkaliga caste. About 57 per cent Scheduled Castes vote for them as do 20 per cent Lingayats.

In comparison, 76 per cent Lingayats, 35 per cent Scheduled Castes, 27 per cent Vokkaligas and 6 per cent Muslims in Karnataka form the BJP's voter base.

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If the voter base of the BJP and the Congress-JDS combine is broken down by gender, the BJP has more men voters than women, while the Congress-JDS have more women voters. The BJP is also stronger amongst the youth while the Congress-JDS is popular among elders, according to a 2014 exit and post poll.

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The BJP is also stronger than the Congress in urban areas; the Congress though pulls back the advantage in rural areas.

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Karnataka happens to be a state where less than half of the sitting lawmakers return to parliament. The parties re-nominate only 60 per cent of the lawmakers, of which only 70 per cent are re-elected by public.

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Karnataka is voting in two phases. The southern half of the state - 14 seats out of 28 - voted on Thursday. The remaining 14 seats will vote next Tuesday.



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