Karnataka election result: A cheat-sheet for reading the early trends as votes are counted
As the Karnataka election results are declared by the Election Commission, here are some clues for deciphering the bigger picture from the early trends.Updated: May 15, 2018, 09:09 IST
Counting of votes began at 8 am on Tuesday for the Karnataka assembly elections and early trends show the Congress and BJP are locked in a tight race. The Congress, which had won power last time with 122 of Karnataka’s 224 seats, is trailing in several that it had won last time. The BJP, which is gaining, had won 40 in 2013. With early trends throwing up a mixed picture, here are five patterns to help get a sense of how the big picture is shaping up, once the results start coming in.
Varying projections by various exit polls have muddied the waters ahead of the declaration of the Karnataka election results. Counting of votes by the Election Commission will start at 8 am on Tuesday with early trends coming in later in the morning but the final results will be declared only by late evening. In case the early trends throw up a mixed picture, the confusion is likely to increase. Here are five patterns which can help you get a sense of how the big picture is shaping up, once the results start coming in.
1) Trends in Bombay and Hyderabad Karnataka: These two sub-regions account for 81 out of the 224 assembly seats in the state. They are also known to be strongholds of Lingayats, which have historically rallied behind the BJP. In 2013, the BJP suffered a bit dent in these areas due to BS Yedurappa’s defection. A BJP revival in these regions would mean a big increase in its tally. This would also mean that the decision to grant a separate religious status to Lingayats did not bring any tangible political gains to the Congress.
2) Coastal Karnataka will test communal polarisation: Although coastal Karnataka has only 20 seats, this region is known for its communal polarisation. The Congress had a big lead over the BJP in the 2013 elections in this region. The consolidation of Muslim votes behind the Congress is likely to increase in these elections. Any significant gains for the BJP in this region would mean that a counter-polarisation among Hindus has happened, the effects of which could be felt in other parts as well.
3) JD(S)’s performance in the southern region of the state: The Janata Dal (Secular), the big regional player in Karnataka, has its stronghold in the Vokkaliga-dominated southern region of the state, which is also known as Old Mysore. If early trends show significant reversals for the JD(S) in this region, it would mean that the Congress has been able to usurp its non-Vokkaliga support by portraying itself as the main political force against the BJP. A big-enough loss in its stronghold can also raise serious questions about the JD(S)’s political future. In case the JD(S) does well in this region, its plans of playing kingmaker (and probably even getting the chief minister’s post) would have succeeded.
4) BJP’s vote share in comparison to 2014: The BJP had a vote share of 43.4% in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state. This is the highest the party has ever got since the 2008 assembly elections in the state. Both Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have been prominent faces of the BJP’s Karnataka election strategy. A significant drop in this number would likely mean that the BJP’s strategy of using the national leadership to win state elections will not yield fruits everywhere. A success in Karnataka, on the other hand, would only add weight to the centralised narrative of the party.
5) Bengaluru results: Bengaluru is among the biggest urban centres in India. Which party gains more would be interesting due to two reasons. The BJP has focused on the crisis of infrastructure and civic amenities to attack the Congress. A big loss for the incumbent would mean that the strategy has resonated with the voters. The city has also seen polarisation on issues such as the murder of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh, and Siddaramaiah’s Kannada nationalism praxis. A significant gain for the Congress in the city will show that the BJP is vulnerable to such counter-polarisation against Hindutva.