While a higher voter turnout is good, for democracy, it has several possible implications for political parties. Both the Congress and BJP feel the higher turnout will benefit them. Congress sees the higher polling percentage as clear sign of winds of change that would bring the party back to power. While the BJP feels a higher turnout means more of its supporters turned up to vote. Here’s a look at what a higher turnout could translate to for different parties.
HIGHER TURNOUT IN COASTAL KARNATAKA
Though the Congress won 13 out of 21 seats in the 2013 assembly election, traditionally, coastal Karnataka is seen as a BJP bastion. Prima facie, a higher turnout in this region, should spell good news for the BJP. However, if the turnout is because of increased polarization in the region, and if more Muslims have stepped out to vote, this could favour the Congress or the JD(S).
HIGHER TURNOUT IN LINGAYAT DOMINANT REGIONS
Lingayat dominant areas too saw a higher turnout this election, but not so much in BJP chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyuruppa base. What could this possibly indicate? It could mean that the Congress’s strategy to split the Lingayat vote by using the minority card has worked. Alternately, Yeddyurappa’s being back in the BJP camp may see a consolidation of Lingayat votes, something the BJP was banking on, when it named him their CM candidate.
HIGHER TURNOUT IN VOKKALIGA
The Old Mysuru region of Karnataka is a JD(S) strong hold. Vokkaliga’s the dominant community here traditionally vote for the JD(S). In 2013, the region saw a neck and neck fight between the two, with the Congress winning bagging 25 of 55 seats, while JD(S) won 23 seats. A higher turnout could throw several possibilities. It could spell trouble for the Congress, with the party losing a few seats here while the JD(S) may be able to add a few to its tally. With BJP having virtually no presence here, it may agree to support JD(S) from outside keeping the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind and to keep its resolve to have a Congress-mukt Bharat.
Of course, a lot will depend on whether the Congress’s can bank on the Ahinda poll plank. Ahinda is the Kannada acronym for alpasankhyataru (minorities), hindulidavaru mattu (backward classes) and dalitaru (Dalits), a vote bank that has traditionally been the backbone of Siddaramaiah’s success.
If things don’t go as planned for the Congress, the party too can opt for giving outside support to JD(S). One that will keep BJP out of power and two, it will keep alive the Congress’s plan of stitching a grand alliance prior to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
LOW TURNOUT IN BENGALURU
Unlike the rest of the state, which has seen a higher turnout, Bengaluru has bucked the trend. On the face of it, this could translate to trouble for the ruling Congress party. But in this election, it’s hard to say. Reason: A higher than usual turnout in Lingayat dominant areas of Karnataka, could favour the ruling party’s decision to give a community a minority status. Should that happen, the Congress should be able to deflect the detrimental effect of poor voter turnout in Bengaluru.
In 2013, the Congress rode on a groundswell of popular support . Question is, in 2018 can do an encore, or will Karnataka vote for anti-incumbency?
Data courtesy Rishabh Srivastava — founder of data research firm, Loki Technologies