Ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, a survey conducted in the poll bound state showed the two dominant castes — Vokkaligas and Lingayats are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to party preferences. The survey, conducted by NDTV and Lokniti-CSDS showed that Vokkaligas votes were split mainly between the Congress and regional party Janata Dal Secular (JDS).
The survey found that about 34 percent respondent supporting the Congress while 36 per cent favouring the JD(S). A small percentage of Vokkaligas voted for the BJP, which won only 15 out of the 58 seats where the community has significant influence.
The survey was conducted from 20-28 April among 2,143 registered voters in 82 polling booths, according to NDTV.
On the other hand, the Lingayats remained loyal to the BJP, with 67 per cent of those surveyed indicating that they intend to vote for the party.
The survey also revealed that a majority of Muslim voters (59 per cent) were likely to support the Congress.
The survey also found that among the economically weaker sections, half of the respondents preferred the Congress, while only 23 per cent supported the ruling BJP. Meanwhile, the saffron party remained popular among the well-off sections, with only 31 per cent of them supporting the Congress.
The BJP has been making efforts to break into Vokkaliga strongholds and retain Lingayat support. In March, the Karnataka government scrapped the 4 per cent quota given to Muslims under 2B classification of the OBC category and divided it between the two communities. The move was seen as an attempt to win over Lingayats, who make up around 16 per cent of Karnataka’s population.
The opinion poll results indicate that political parties will need to cater to the diverse preferences of different communities in Karnataka to succeed in the upcoming elections.
The Lingayats got a bigger chunk of the reservation with 7 per cent, a percentage point more than the Vokkaligas.
The state’s single largest community which comprises nearly 17 per cent of the population, Lingayats can determine the outcome of election in as many as 90-100 of the 224 assembly seats.
The Lingayats community, initially supporters of the Congress, shifted their loyalty in the after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 abruptly sacked Lingayat Chief Minister Veerendra Patil. It provided an opening for the BJP to make inroads into the southern state under BS Yediyurappa, one of the tallest leaders of the community.
Though marginally smaller than the Lingayats, the Vokkaligas – 15 per cent of the population — have been politically crucial, giving Karnataka nine of its Chief Ministers and a Prime Minister. The community stronghold – Old Mysuru region – has 58 of the state’s 224 assembly seats.
Over the last months, the BJP, which holds 15 of the seats – way behind 24 of the JDS and 18 of the Congress, has been wooing the community. Besides giving them a chunk of quota in its new policy, the BJP government has also built a massive 108-ft statue of Nada Prabhu Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bengaluru and 16th century chieftain of Vijayanagar dynasty, near the Bengaluru airport.
The Karnataka Assembly Elections 2023 are scheduled to be held on 10 May while the counting of votes will take place on 13 May. The election will be held to elect the 224-member Assembly. This time it is expected that there will be close contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress along with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) playing a possible kingmaker role.
Story first published: Tuesday, May 2, 2023, 23:40 [IST]