Friday, January 20, 2023

Karnataka to produce a hung assembly, with Congress in lead

Karnataka is heading for a hung Assembly with the Congress party set to emerge as the single largest party in the 224- member House, where elections are due in April/ May 2023.The Karnataka Assembly Elections, which is dominating national attention, is heading for a dramatic finish between the Ruling BJP and Congress, according to the First Tracker Poll conducted for a News website South First by Peoples Pulse – Cicero, research organizations.

Over the past three and a half decades no ruling party has ever retained power in Karnataka. The BJP is taking this election very seriously as Karnataka is the only state in South India where it has managed to form the government.

Second, it is working to buck the trend and retain power like they did in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh in 2022. Now, the Congress and the JD(S) are pointing to Himachal Pradesh and saying that the trend would continue and they would be voted to power.

According to the First Tracker Poll conducted for a News website, South First by research organisations Peoples Pulse – Cicero, the Congress would emerge as the single largest party with 101 seats(+ or – 9 seats). in the 224 member Karnataka Assembly.

The first Tracker Poll was conducted from 22 to 31 December 2022. Two more tracker polls are scheduled in March 2023 and just before the elections. The report was compiled and prepared by Cicero, Founder Director Mr. Dhananjai Joshi.

The ruling BJP would be trailing with 91 seats (+ or – 7 seats), the JD(S) with 29 seats (+ or – 5 seats) and others with three seats. All would be short of the magic figure or the half way mark of 113 and therefore two parties would need to come together to form the government like in the 2018 post-poll scenario. The JD(S) would have a say in who would govern in Karnataka after the ensuing Assembly Elections in April / May.

The Congress when compared to its 2018 performance would be gaining by two percent in its vote share which translates into a gain of 22 seats. The secret ballot conducted as part of the survey showed that the Congress vote share would move from 38 percent in 2018 to 40 percent today.

The ruling party, BJP, is holding its ground. In 2018 it got a vote share of 36.2 percent. In the tracker poll now, it is getting 36 percent, which is a loss of a hair breadth 0.2 percent and for this reason, it is losing 13 seats.

The JD(S), the kingmaker in the last edition, would get 16 percent now, which is 2.4 percent down from what it got in 2018. The JD(S) would be losing eight seats to get 29 seats. For the JD(S) point of view it is very crucial that it retains this vote share as this alone would ensure that it would be a kingmaker of sorts. Alternatively, if it allows further erosion of its space its electoral relevance would proportionately drop.

Caste plays a very important role in Karnataka politics and add to this  the communal issues that have come to play in recent times. According to the Tracker Poll, the castes that are supporting the Congress are the OBCs, Holeya, Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims. The communities that back the BJP are upper castes, Vokkalingas and Lingayats. The core vote of the JD(S) is the nearly 50 percent of the Vokkalingas.

The Congress has gained the slight edge because of the Ahinda consolidation which means non-Vokkalingas, OBCs, Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims are backing them. The reason is during Congress regime Mr Siddaramiah as Chief Minister between 2013-2018 packaged welfare schemes targeted at these communities.

When respondents were asked who they preferred as the next Chief Minister Mr Siddaramiah stood tall with 28 percent of the voters preferring him. The present CM, Mr Baswaraj Bommai came next with 19 percent followed by  Mr Kumaraswamy with 18 percent.

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