Polling ends in Karnataka; month-long, nail-biting wait begins

Updated - May 07, 2024 09:07 pm IST

Published - May 07, 2024 08:57 pm IST - Bengaluru

BJP leaders B.S. Yediyurappa, B.Y. Vijayendra, and B.Y. Raghavendra with their family members after voting in the Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday.

BJP leaders B.S. Yediyurappa, B.Y. Vijayendra, and B.Y. Raghavendra with their family members after voting in the Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday. | Photo Credit:

As the curtains came down on the hard-fought and high-pitched Lok Sabha elections amid the sweltering heat in Karnataka on Tuesday, it will be nearly a month-long tense wait for the electoral fortunes to be known. The counting of votes across the country will take place on June 4.

Amid the prevailing drought, the worst in four decades the State is facing, which is likely to impact the results, the ruling Congress fought on the plank of five guarantees and “injustice” meted out to the State by the Centre in terms of tax devolution and drought relief, while the BJP ran the “Modi development” agenda and the Hindutva plank. The diatribe by Congress and BJP leaders against each other in the nearly month-long election campaign also drowned several important issues that affect the electorate across the State.

While 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in south Karnataka region, including two coastal constituencies, went to the polls on April 26 as part of the second phase, the remaining 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kalyana Karnataka, Kittur Karnataka, and one coastal constituency, went to the polls as part of third phase on Tuesday.

Impact of guarantees

The Congress seems to have challenged the BJP in most constituencies through the effective implementation of the five guarantees, which it promised ahead of the 2023 Assembly elections. It set a counter-narrative to the BJP’s Hindutva plank or the “Modi effect” through the guarantees and a more organised campaign, making the poll outcome prediction difficult. The margin of victories could be narrow, as a result. Political observers believe that this election, in the absence of a perceived wave, was fought at the constituency level with each displaying different trends based on individuals and local issues.

Midway through the election campaign, the alleged sexual exploitation case involving the Janata Dal (Secular) Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna created a pan-Karnataka narrative against the BJP for aligning with the JD(S), which has now transcended the State borders. The persistent Congress attack is learnt to have put the BJP on the defensive, and has embarrassed the JD(S).

Political observers also believe that the alleged sexual exploitation case provided the Congress with a lever to contain the possible polarisation of votes in favour of the BJP after the killing of Congress councillor’s daughter Neha Hiremath. The incident in Hubballi was perceived to have consolidated the powerful Lingayat votes in favour of the BJP in north Karnataka constituencies, most of which are dominated by various Veerashaiva-Lingayat sub-castes.

Local impact

The parliamentary election results are being keenly awaited as the BJP and the JD(S) went to the polls in a formal alliance for the first time. The future of the alliance is being tied to the election outcome. Though contesting in only three seats, the JD(S) is seeing this as a battle for survival and retaining its identity in the Vokkaliga politics. The BJP faces the uphill task of repeating the good show of 2019 when it won 25 seats. The results could also reflect on the leadership of the new BJP State president B.Y. Vijayendra, son of Lingayat strongman and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

The electoral outcome could also have consequences within the ruling Congress where speculation is rife on the rotation of the Chief Minister’s post between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar. The Congress’ performance could be viewed differently by both camps, and Congress insiders believe that the ripple effect of the results would be felt in the party later.

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