One of the most keenly fought elections in the country is the one in the last bastion of the Congress – Karnataka. Some very telling pictures emerge from the run-up to the elections. Yes, it is generally understood that Muslims and Christians are largely anti-BJP and Hindus are generally pro-BJP, but Karnataka always has puzzled the rest of India. Let’s take a look –
CASTE FACTOR: The Hindus of Karnataka were earlier marked as Vokkaligas, Brahmins, Kurubas, Lingayats, Gowdas, Veer Shaivas, and so on. This year the incumbent Chief Minister Siddharamaiah staked his claim on the Lingayat votes by declaring Lingayat as a different religion from Hinduism. But no one expected that the Veer Shaivas and Lingayats would go against this move. Today, even though Yeddiyurappa was one of the persons demanding that Lingayat should be given a minority status, people blame only Siddharamaiah for this hasty decision. It is now seen as a move to divide Hindus and destroy Hinduism. And for once, the whole of Karnataka has decided to vote as just Hindu, and mainly in favour of BJP, it seems.
RELIGION FACTOR: In most of the States, religion is seen as an important factor in determining who rules the State. Congress which had been blatantly favouring appeasement of minorities in the past, has now been on the back-foot, especially after Gujarat. Their new-found love for the Hindus has raised many eyebrows but it is doubtful whether it will raise the vote percentage in their favour in Karnataka. In fact there are a few reports of Muslims vocally supporting BJP. The Christian vote is largely in favour of Congress. BJP declaring in their Manifesto that they would free the Temples from Government control will definitely garner them a lot of votes.
MONEY SPENT ON VOTERS: It is well-known that many political parties buy votes by giving the citizens freebies like cookers, saris, etc. and giving them hard cash. In Karnataka it was reported more than a month back that cookers, saris, dhotis, vessels and other household items had been distributed by the Congress. Videos of Siddharamaiah reportedly throwing currency notes during his rally also surfaced. There were reports of large sums of money changing hands and it looked as if Congress could rest assured that they would garner a lot of votes. But then, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his rallies and now, videos of people returning the gifts by dumping them in the village centre have surfaced. There is now a wave of concern in the Congress camp regarding the ‘assured’ votes.
PRE-POLL ALLIANCES: Ever since the media and the social media have become very vigilant, pre-poll alliances also have been affected. Seat sharing and negotiations no longer are ‘secret’ and every move is dissected so much, that political parties are now shy of declaring their ‘love’ for other parties. This has happened in Karnataka too – JD(S), which is considered as the party which could be instrumental in the formation of the Government, has chosen to be silent about which party they would support. Neither BJP nor Congress wants to ruin their ‘friendship’ with JD(S) and thus have remained largely silent about any tie-ups. But in the Coastal Belt of Karnataka, especially in Dakshina Kannada, the Congress has tied up with SDPI, the political wing of Islamist outfit PFI, in an attempt to stop the split in the Muslim votes. With PFI being accused of criminal activities, it remains to be seen whether the Congress will now manage to win in DK, especially since the Hindus there are vociferously protesting against the murders of their RSS workers and against cow theft and slaughter.
SOCIAL MEDIA: There is no doubt that the BJP Karnataka IT handle has been able to outwit the INC tweets in an effective and humourous manner. Also, supporters of BJP have managed to effectively spread information and data in a precise manner via Facebook and WhatsApp. The Cambridge Analytica controversy too has spelled spelt disaster for the Congress party. People of Karnataka are vastly technologically literate and it is expected that the Social Media will play a big role in swinging votes in favour of BJP.
RISING CRIME RATE & CONGRESS FOOTPRINTS: Statistics (NCRB) show that Bengaluru has the dubious distinction of being second in ranking of violent crimes like rape, molestation, kidnap and murder, behind only Delhi. Even top cops have not been spared in Karnataka and cases of suicide because of harassment from Congress leaders (K George for example) have been in the headlines in the five years of Congress rule. When Harris Nalapad’s son beat up a person in full public view, and then refused to surrender to the police, no one was surprised! Bengaluru is now a far cry from the peaceful pensioner’s paradise.
CAPITAL CITY IN A CAPITAL MESS: Every State tries to make its capital the most efficient place of administration and ease of living. But Karnataka’s capital city Bengaluru must be the only city in Bharat where instead of trying to save green spaces, they are dumping debris on lakes and building structures there. Bengaluru was once known as the city of a thousand lakes. Less than 17 survive in the heart of the city now and reports of lakes catching fire appear in the press now and then. Whether it is the water, electricity outages, roads (some extremely narrow) or the Metro system, the traffic or the disappearing pleasant climate of Bengaluru, the capital city leaves a lot to be desired. While traditionally the voting in Bengaluru has been less, this time it is expected that the voting percentage will be higher and that the current Government will face defeat.
CHARISMA: Anyone watching the rallies in Karnataka will agree that the charisma of the trio of PM Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath far outshines the charisma of Siddharamaiah and Rahul Gandhi. If the crowds at the BJP rallies were to convert to votes, there is no doubt that BJP will win by a huge margin? Today Rahul Gandhi declared himself as a Prime Ministerial candidate in the event of Congress winning the 2019 elections. It remains to be seen if the people of Karnataka decide in his favour now. As of now, it seems to be BJP and “Modi, Modi” all the way.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS:
- In 2018, for the first time 3rd Gen EVMs will be used, which will give out paper trial slips.
- Kumaraswamy (JDS) and Siddharamaiah (INC) – past and present CM respectively, will be contesting the elections from 2 constituencies.
- Till now election related seizures of Rs.152 crore cash and articles have been seized by the Enforcement agencies.
- This makes Karnataka the no. 2 State w.r.t. Election related Seizures, after Uttar Pradesh.
- Another interesting fact is that Rs. 41.48 crore ie. 4 lakh litres worth of liquor has been seized so far.
- Comparatively only Rs. 14.42 cr of cash was seized in 2013 Vidhan Sabha polls and Rs. 28.08 cr of cash was seized in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, from Karnataka. Even the liquor seized is 3 times the liquor seized in the past.
It goes without saying that these were to be used to buy votes. So readers can judge for themselves why more than 10 times the cash has been spent in buying votes in Karnataka.
While many poll pundits have predicted that JDS might end up becoming the “King Maker” in Karnataka, we feel that BJP has an upper hand in these polls. In 2013, out of 224 seats Indian National Congress won 122 seats and both BJP and JDS won 40 seats each.
POLL PREDICTION: As per our estimates, the anti-incumbency will affect INC and they will be in the 2nd position. BJP is expected to garner at least 120-130 seats, past the half-way mark.