Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


 JAMADI-AWWAL / JAMADI THANI
JUNE 2004
Volume 17-06 No : 210

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Karnataka Polls - Commentary


Triangular Contests Benefit BJP

Triangular Contests Benefit BJP

Muslim representation in the Karnataka Assembly has been less than halved. Most Muslim candidates fell victim of division in secular votes.

By Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Karnataka has sprung the major surprise. It voted the Bharatiya Janata Party to the number one position, though still far short of the magic number of 113 in a 224-member Assembly. The success in the Lok Sabha was more spectacular. It hiked its tally from 7 to 18. Though the exit polls were proved nearly true, all those who had hoped that pollsters were exaggerating—and there were too many who thought so—were proved wrong. The BJP indeed emerged on the top despite its quarrelsome leadership, sagging image and floundering ranks. Post-polls analysis confirms that the party’s success was not of its own making. It was merely the outcome of three-way split of votes and the BJP bagged the top slot despite a massive drop in votes than what it polled during the 1999 elections. If the rise of the JD(Secular) made its task easy, it wrought havoc for the Congress, almost halving its seats (from 132 to 67) without causing any deep dent into the vote share (votes dropped from 41 per cent in 1999 to 35 per cent this time). The real gainer was Janata Dal(Secular) which increased its tally from 10 seats in 1999 to 56.

Clearly, three years of continued drought undid the carefully cultivated image of Congress Chief Minister S. M. Krishna who failed to measure upto even 90 seats which the party insiders had hoped they would bag in order to somehow remain in the saddle of power. But in between the two, the Janata Dal (secular) too rose like the proverbial sphinx from the ashes. The barnstorming of the Devegowda-Siddramiah duo bore fruits, and plentiful at that, to reduce to smithereens the dreams of the two national parties. Pollsters had either written it off or kept it out of the reckoning.

The dramatic results were mainly the outcome of contest being turned from bipolar to triangular. It is however inexplicable as to how Congress and the BJP—both securing 37 per cent of popular votes each cast for the Lok Sabha in the State—could have this vast difference in matters of seats with Congress gaining just 8 seats while the BJP securing 18.

It is also worth noting that tactical voting by Muslims has had little impact despite the Karnataka Muslim Muttehada Mahaz putting up an elaborate exercise and mechanism to mobilise the community votes. Division of Muslim votes between two secular parties in the fray partly nullified the efforts. Of the 161 Assembly segments where the Mahaz declared support for the Congress candidates, only 56 could emerge the winner. Measure of success in case with JD(S) was better. Of the 45 JD(S) candidate supported by the Mahaz, 29 made it to the Assembly. However, in Mahaz’s own reckoning, it achieved 75 per cent success as it also takes into the account the second places secured by its supported candidates.

Muslim representation in the Karnataka Assembly has been less than halved. Most Muslim candidates fell victim of division in secular votes. Against the 13 Muslims MLAs in 1999, only six could make it to the Assembly this time. As for the Lok Sabha, it is guessed the Bangalore North seat, which has elected C. K. Jaffer Sharief for seven times (except in 1996), was lost to the BJP due to clash between Sharief and C. M. Ibrahim. Ibrahim, it is understood, took a sweet revenge against Sharief scuttling Ibrahim’s prospects of getting a Congress nomination for Rajya Sabha in 1994. Even Dharwar South seats held by Mr. I. G. Sannadi was wrested by the BJP. Thus the state could elect just a lone Muslim MP, Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi from Gulbarga to Lok Sabha.

The prospect of a secular coalition government (Congress plus Janata Dal Secular) being in saddle may warm the cockles of the secularists for the time being. But by all indications, it would be an uneasy alliance and ideologically incoherent Government. There are enough number of hotheads in both the parties and they might pull the plug any time the Government refuses to follow their dictates. Any premature collapse of the coalition with call for elections is all likely to steer the ground for BJP’s further rise in this southern State. Perhaps this spectre has not been sufficiently anticipated by the groups who are putting up a refrain for the ‘secular government’. With Karnataka having rejected the incumbents for five times in a row, the threat is real.

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News Community Roundup Editorial Letters Trends Karnataka Polls - Commentary Elections-2004 Muslim Perspectives Fast Forward Book Review Features Children's Corner Just For the Young Miscellany Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Question Hour Religion Facts on Faith Quran and Science Role Models Reflections Crossfire Journey to Islam Matrimonial
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