With the Elections coming to end in Karnataka, and release of Exit polls, it is time for my customary election analysis. With so much of media hype, floating data of pre poll surveys, exit poll surveys and all sort of other poll surveys; statistial pundits put their brains, political journalist put their assessment, great arm chair journalist went across different part of Karnataka and ate everything from Neer Dosa to fish, talked to all people from Village to Metro, Hindus and Muslims, Lingayats and Dalits, students and professionals, new voters and age old voters etc; with all this halla-gulla what they came up was that it is a fractured mandate and no party will get majority.
I have been observing elections for many years and in these years have seen lot of churning in Indian political landscape. What for recent time is very clear is how people vote in elections. My observations from elections for about last 10yrs is that people have been clear in their mandate. Even in Maharashtra election (Where BJP was short of majority), people made it clear as to which party it wanted to rule. The only place where there has been some confusion has been in Kashmir (Due to its clear split in voting pattern in Kashmir Valkey and Jammu) and small states of Goa, Manipur, Mizoram. Under such a situation, a big state of Karnataka, I find it highly surprising to see a fractured mandate where people are predicting seats of 80+ or 90+ to BJP/Congress (Based on which polls one follow). So how real is this situation. My hypothesis for sure is there will be clear mandate either as Pro / Anti Incumbent. I need to see how my hypothes stands and will my couch potato analysis of elections works better than the greats of journalist is what I will be interested to know.
How did political parties run their campaign? Congress was early runner in the election campaign, being a party in power it was on election mode for many months. RG had a lot of rallies around Karnataka and also jointly did roadshows and campaign with Siddhu. But as the heat of election caught on, and with almost certain projection of Siddhu as CM face, I felt many top leaders of Congress did not come to ground to campaign in other locations. I clearly missed Parameshwar, DKS, Kharge, Ambarish etc. These leaders may not have a big base like Siddhu but they surely have a 1% to 4% swing capabilities. It now needs to be seen as to how this will impact Congress and how much this will cut its seats.
On BJP side, it was a split party with many leaders pulling party in different directions for last many years, but in last month or so, they seem to have come along and are able to cohese as one unit, Modi this time has been brought in last 2 weeks as slog over hitter for the campaign, with his entry the narrative has surely changed from a Siddhu v/s Yeddi fight to Modi v/s RG fight. All this has surely swang some votes in favour of BJP, but it needs to be seen will this be sufficient to take them across the finish line.
On JDS side due to serious lack of resources their campaign has been concentrated in their strong hold. But how much they are going to eat into other party votes is a qn we will come to know on 15th May.
This election has been widely perceived as a course correction for National Parties – BJP and Congress. It is widely speculated that if Congress wins, it will make a turn around from the downward slide it has been on and loss of BJP will be perceived to be a stop of its victorious run. This condition will also give recognition to RG’s leadership which people have been making fun of. Coming to a condition where BJP wins the election, it will further cement the position of BJP and give them the confidence to face elections which are up end of year. One of the major strength of BJP has been its potential to snatch victory from jaw of defeat when it comes to close-fought elections. The best example what I always put is that of Gujarat. BJP with all its machinery had been able to pull victory from an eminent defeat in Gujarat. It needs to be seen if BJP is able to replicate this in Karnataka.