Electoral Analysis : Karnataka
An acrimonious alliance between the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular proved to be its undoing in the LS poll.
The exit poll results for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka turned out to be conservative for the BJP. On the evening of May 19 when Exit Poll predicted 21 out of the 28 seats for the BJP in the State, many in the State thought the pollsters were biased in favour of the party. But final results i.e., 25 for the BJP and three for others have proved that the pollsters were only modest in conceding a super slice of seats to the ruling combine.
As could be seen, the BJP bagged 25 out of 28 seats from the State. Besides, independent candidate Sumalatha, film actress and wife of former Congress MP from Mandya constituency, too emerged victorious with the support of the BJP. The rival against her who kissed the dust was Nikhil, son of chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy. The Congress totally misread the undercurrents and could not resist its ally Janata Dal Secular’s bid to make the most of the situation to consolidate the Gowda dynasty into power. Besides his two grandsons, JDS supremo and former Prime Minister H. D. Devegowda were fielded in the election. The lone seat coming the JDS way is Hassan where one of the two grandsons, registered his victory. Even Devegowda was defeated from Tumkur. The poll outcome has shown that Congress paid a price for the overbearing stance of the JDS.
The clean sweep by the BJP in Lok Sabha election came exactly on the first birth anniversary of the Kumaraswamy-led Government was sworn in State last year. The Congress and the JDS had separately fought against the BJP last year. The BJP emerged the largest party with 104 out of the 224 seats. But the Congress and the JDS forged a quick alliance immediately afterwards to put up a coalition Government in the saddle. The ride has been rough since the beginning and only the fear of decimation at the hands of the BJP kept it going.
No Transfer of Votes
The BJP which went into the campaign with a sense of vengeance for having been denied power last year, improved its tally of votes from 36.3% in 2018 Assembly election to 51% this time. The Congress with nearly 32% and the Janata Dal with around 10% fared poorly. It seems the two allies could not transfer their votes in most constituencies. They believed in arithmetic but could not ensure chemistry between their cadres. Having fought like bitter foes only a year ago, there were reports of their block and district level leaders rebelling against the party’s command to work for the rival party’s candidate. Congress had to issue ultimatums to rebels and renegades. But in each case, the beneficiary was the BJP as rebels turned to it out of vengeance against their own party.
As we had reported earlier, the Karnataka has been the most hospitable terrain in Southern India for the BJP. While the party could not open its account in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, it proved the pollsters totally wrong as far as the state was concerned. The Congress and JDS could manage just one seat each i.e., Bangalore Rural and Hassan respectively for themselves. Mandya where Sumalatha won with the BJP support could be counted as the BJP’s by default.
Besides former Prime Minister Devegowda, the electoral garbage heap has worthies such as former chief minister Veerappa Moily, Opposition leader in the previous Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge (the Congress leader who had never tasted a defeat during his 11 encounters), K. H. Muniyappa from Kolar and several others. The only Muslim candidate Mr. Rizwan Arshad tasted the defeat for a second time at the hands of BJP’s P. C. Mohan. In between the two was film actor Prakash Raj who could muster only around 28 thousand votes. The winning margin for Mohan was over 70 thousand votes.
As it seems now, the Congress-JDS coalition government will find it tough to continue their hold on power. It could avert a fall several times during the last one year. The arrangement with Congress having over twice the MLAs than the JDS, has been the cause of heartburn for several ambitious Congress MLAs who have been denied berth in the cabinet. There were umpteen issues between them and the electoral defeat has turned the future even more grim. Considerable portions of their traditional voters have shifted their loyalty to the BJP. The two allies have been exchanging angry volleys since the formation of the Government. Several have even raised the banner of revolt. However, they are holding their guns knowing full well that mutual acrimony would only benefit the BJP which has eroded the ground from under their feet.