Low turnout in Karnataka: BJP with its back to the wall

A combined Congress and JD(S) opposition, JD(S) led coalition government in the state and the low turnout on Thursday will make it difficult for BJP to retain seats it won in Karnataka in 2014

Low turnout in Karnataka: BJP with its back to the wall

KV Lakshmana

Low voter turnout in Karnataka and pathetically low voting in Bengaluru, in the third phase of polling for general elections in the state for 14 Lok Sabha seats on Thursday, for sure is good news for the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance, political analysts said on Thursday.

At around six pm, after voting came to a close at many polling stations, the Karnataka average voting was pegged at around 60 percent and in Bangalore at a poor 45 percent.

This poor turnout, though in seats where former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (Tumkur) and his grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy were contesting from Hassan and Mandya respectively, polling was heavy at 70 percent.

Other prominent leaders in the fray on Thursday were Union minister Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North) and senior Congress leaders Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapura) and K H Muniyappa (Kolar).

From Bangalore central, actor Prakash Raj is engaged in a triangular contest. Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh, wife of actor Ambareesh, supported by the BJP is putting up a spirited battle in Mandya. Another high-voltage battle is being fought in Bangalore south where controversial BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya taking on veteran Congressman B K Hariprasad.

Political analyst Prof PS Jayaramu opined that the poor turnout would be problematic for the BJP. There are a combination of factors that could result in a disappointing show for the BJP, he said, which is eyeing at Karnataka to not only retain the 17 seats it won during 2014 general elections but improve on the tally as well.

But, said Prof Jayaramu, last time the BJP had the advantage of triangular contests with Congress and Janata Dal (S) in fray separately. Then there was a big Modi wave and anti-UPA sentiment and severe anti-incumbency against the Manmohan Singh government, which benefited the BJP.

But this time, he said, the BJP is facing a combined Congress and Janata Dal (S), which in itself poses a challenge. And this low voter turnout means that the voters are disenchanted and this may not benefit the BJP.

Although it is difficult to predict the number of seats, the BJP may not be able to better its previous position. The party’s tally can even come down from the 2014 general elections, but only marginally, he said adding that “it is a very tough and close battle between two forces in the bipolar elections in Karnataka.”

Income Tax raids in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh will go against the BJP, he feels. “Television is beaming pictures and news across the country and people are seeing raids directed only against the opposition parties and politicians,” Prof Jayaramu said.

Praveen Peter, Congress spokesperson, said that the voters will reject the cheap politics being played by the Prime Minister. It is clear from the body language of the PM and this is the reason why the PM is bringing religion into electioneering, the Congress leader said.

“It is good for us,” said Brijesh Kallappa, national spokesperson commenting on the relatively low turnout of around 60 per cent. This turnout will be revised upwards by the Election Commission after collating data from different voting stations across the state.

Karnataka voted for 14 parliamentary constituencies on Thursday and voting for the remaining 14 seats will be held on April 23.

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