In this election the most important vote bank for any party will be the Muslims as all other castes in Karnataka will be deeply divided, reports Vicky Nanjappa
Caste has always been a key factor in any election in Karnataka.
The Bharatiya Janata Party swept the elections last time around largely because it received the undivided vote share of the Lingayat community.
The Lingayat vote bank is important as it constitutes 21 per cent of the vote share. But in this election the BJP is not confident of getting the entire vote bank despite having Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat, as its leader.
B S Yeddyurappa, who split from the BJP, is also a Lingayat and will have a share in this vote bank, especially in parts of Bengaluru and Northern Karnataka.
The next biggest vote bank of the Vokkaligas appears to be in favour of the Janata Dal (Secular). The Vokkaligas hold 18 per cent of the vote share. Although a majority will vote for the JD-S, the Congress will take some of this vote share while the BJP, too, thanks to Sadananda Gowda, will also have a small share.
The OBC, SC/ST and the Kuruba community constitute 32 per cent of the vote share.
This has been traditionally a vote bank for the Congress and it appears that this time around, with Siddarmaiah, a Kuruba leader at the fore front, at least 28 per cent of this vote share will go to the Congress. The Brahmins and the Christians who have a vote share of 6 and 4 per cent respectively are likely to vote in favour of the BJP and the Congress respectively.
According to political experts, for any party to win the election, they would need to bank on at least 40 per cent of this vote share. This makes it important for these parties to capture the Muslim votes.
The Muslims votes will be fought for by the Congress, JD-S and the Karnataka Janata Party. The Muslims have a vote share of 13 per cent and each of these parties would be looking for at least 10 per cent. Although the KJP headed by Yeddyurappa has proclaimed that he is pro Muslim, the community may not go with him as he is a former BJP man.
The JD-S is desperate for this vote bank and is doing everything under the sun to grab a lion’s share. Party leader H D Kumaraswamy commenced his campaign by praying at the Ajmer Dargah. Moreover, the first lists of candidates announced by him were all Muslims.
The Congress on the other hand is looking to field Muslim leaders and will aim to strike a balance. There are several leaders such as Jaffer Sharief and Roshan Baig who are likely to make a difference to this vote bank. There is intense lobbying in the Congress by these leaders and also C M Ibrahim to try and field as many Muslim candidates as possible.
These leaders are lobbying for tickets since the past one week. They feel that giving more tickets to Muslims will mean a guaranteed share in the vote bank. They also feel if the Muslims are well represented then that party will win the elections.