How Karnataka votes: A break-down of 6 key regions in the state
Bengaluru: Karnataka is a state that is split into various regions. What is interesting is that each of these regions have a different voting pattern and parties have to strategise accordingly in order to bag in the votes.
The Bombay Karnataka Region is always a keenly watched region considering the high number of Lingayats that are present over there. This year, this is the region to watch out for as it would determine if the religious minority tag for Lingayats would have any impact on the voting pattern.
Let us take a look at the regions and break it down to see how the voting takes place.
The Bombay-Karnataka region:
The BJP normally focuses heavily on this region considering its major chunk of votes from the Lingayat community lies here. There are 50 seats up for grabs here and the BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa has a considerable amount of sway here.
While the BJP has lapped up a major chunk of the seats from this region which is Lingayat dominated, the performance of the party was dismal in 2013. The Congress ended up winning 31 seats from here. Analysts would however attribute this to the split in the votes as Yeddyurappa had formed the KJP and parted ways with the BJP. With the BJP today a united front, it would look to capitalise heavily on this region.
The key issues to watch out for in this region would be the Mahadayi dispute and of course the Lingayat issue.
The coastal region:
The coast or the Coastal Karnataka region has 19 seats up for grabs. This is the region where Hindutva originates from during every election. The Mangalore Parliamentary Constituency has always been a safe bet for the BJP.
Back in 2008, the BJP put up an impressive performance in this region. However in 2013, the Congress pulled of a stunning victory and bagged 14 out of the 19 seats here.
The BJP which is hoping to make a come back has focused plenty of its resources in this region. The big issues that have been raised are the deaths of BJP-RSS workers. The cow slaughter problem has also become a major poll plank in this region. While the BJP hopes to capitalise on the polarisation of Hindu votes, the Congress will bank on the performance of its MLAs.
The Hyderabad-Karnataka region:
There are 40 constituencies in this region and back in 2013, the Congress won 23 of these seats. This region cannot be considered as a take-away for any party. The BJP and Congress are locked in a tight battle here.
While the Congress has been traditionally strong in this region, it lost out to the BJP in 2008. What must be noted is the much hyped Ballari comes under this region and back in 2008 was controlled by the Reddy brothers.
The Congress has relied heavily on the likes of Mallikarjuna Kharge and the late Dharam Singh to bag in the votes. The key issues which daunt the region is development. It is probably one of the most under-developed regions in the state. The Congress this time would hope to capitalise on its decision of providing regional recognition to the region. Under Section 371 (J) of the Constitution, 70 per cent of the seats in professional colleges are reserved for the locals of this region.
The Old Mysore-Region:
This is a big one and traditionally the BJP has struggled here. There are 61 seats in this region which is dominated by the Vokkaligas. The battle in this region has always been between the JD(S) and Congress. The JD(S) takes a slight edge as it has projected itself as a party of the Vokkaligas.
Apart from the Vokkaligas, the Congress would also look to pocket the Dalits, Minorities and Backward classes. The BJP normally struggles in this region as the Vokkaligas often views the party as that of the Lingayats. The best performance that the BJP put up in this region was in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. It bagged the Mysore Parliamentary seat with a thumping 40 per cent vote share. However all surveys post the poll attributed the win to the Modi wave.
The biggest issue in this region has been the Cauvery Waters dispute. This issue could alter the fate of any politician in the region. Some of the key constituencies in this region are Chamundeshwari and Varuna from where Siddaramaiah and his son Yathindra are contesting respectively. The other prominent constituencies which fall under this region are Mandya, Ramanagara, Kodagu, Tumkur among others.
The Central Karnataka region:
With 26 seats up for grabs this is a hotly contested region. Districts such as Chickmagaluru, Davangere and Yeddyurappa’s home town Shimoga come under this region.
In 2013 the Congress bagged 15 out of the 26 seats in this region. The JD(S) got 6 and the BJP just 3. The BJP would look to better its performance this year. Back in 2008 the BJP and Congress bagged 13 seats each. Dr. Sandeep Shastri, political analyst says that Chickmagaluru in particular has a voting pattern similar to that of the coast.
In Shimoga, the BJP would look to better its performance when compared to 2008 when it bagged just one seat. This is a mixed bag region and the fight this year appears to be a direct one between the BJP and Congress.
The Bengaluru region:
Technically this falls under the Old Mysore region, but the voting pattern is very different. The city alone has 28 constituencies and the importance of this is seen when a major chunk of the MLAs who are elected from Bengaluru end up becoming ministers.
This is a major region as it accounts for 12 per cent of the state’s vote share. The BJP has traditionally done well in this region. Even in its lowest ebb during 2013, it bagged 12 seats while the Congress romped home with 13.
While the BJP hopes to make a turn around, the Congress is banking heavily on the urban poor who are huge in number. It has come up with Indira Canteens to bag the votes. Further it has made Kannada Pride an issue with the hope of taking home the votes.
The BJP on the other hand has focused on infrastructure issues and law and order problems. The frothing of lakes, water crisis and poor infrastructure have been central to the BJP’s campaign in Bengaluru.