The number of parties contesting Assembly polls has seen a significant rise

The electoral space in Karnataka seems to be getting more crowded with the number of political parties in the fray for the May 5 Assembly elections being 73, the highest ever, against 32 in the 2008 elections.

In contrast, only six parties contested the Assembly elections in Karnataka in 1957.

The mainstream parties apart, at least 35 of the registered outfits are contesting this time from just one seat, and about a dozen parties contesting from less than half-a-dozen seats.

Belgaum district looks like a favourite for political parties with 24 recognised (national and regional parties) and registered parties in the electoral fray in 18 Assembly constituencies, besides the Independents. This high number has been attributed to linguistic and border issues in the district. At least eight registered parties here are contesting in one segment.

Also, a majority of registered parties seem to be more active in north Karnataka. Of the total 2,948 candidates in the fray for 224 Assembly seats, 894 candidates represent 17 national parties, 932 candidates other registered parties and the rest are Independents.

“The increasing number of registered parties participating in the elections has been due to a wider range of issues being debated.

This is a pan-India trend, especially in the Assembly elections,” national convener of Lokniti Network Sandeep Shastri told The Hindu.

He attributed this trend to local conditions, political ambitions of leaders, flexibility in switching alliances in post-election scenario, and also to seek visibility. “In some cases, parties that may win just one seat will be in the fray to overcome the provisions of the anti-defection law, which allows merger of parties, but prohibits an Independent from joining a party.”

According to him, many of these parties are just on paper, not politically significant.

Interestingly, many of the registered parties have a national outlook — at least in terms of their names by calling themselves “Bharathiya”/ “national”, but are completely local in characteristics.

“Most of the parties will not win voter acceptability. They will be just present in the elections,” a senior Congress leader said.

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