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Reading the numbers behind saffron surge in K'taka
Vicky Nanjappa
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May 26, 2008 10:10 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party created records when it scored a massive victory in the Karnataka assembly elections. Why? First, because it will form the first independent government in South India; and secondly, because it is the first party to win an election after the delimitation exercise was undertaken across the country.

Graphic: Analysing BJP's win in Karnataka

Karnataka, incidentally, is the first state to go for polls following the delimitation exercise. The BJP in Karnataka has had a bumpy ride since 1983 when it won 18 out of the 110 seats it contested.

In the 1985 and 1989 polls, the party contested 116 and 118 seats but managed to win just two and four seats respectively. Things began to look up for the party in 1994 when it won 40 out of the 223 seats it contested. In 1999, the party contested 144 seats and won 44 seats.

Saffron surge in K'taka: Of gambles well played

In the year 2004, the saffron party showed it had arrived when it emerged as the single largest party by winning 79 out of the 198 seats contested. Impressed by its performance in the 2004 polls, the BJP in Karnataka, for the first time, decided to contest all the 224 seats and bagged a record 110 seats in the just-concluded elections.

With a jubilant BJP all set to form the government in Karnataka, it would be interesting to see where the party made gains and which parts of the state helped it reach the top slot.

Winners and losers

The BJP should thank Bangalore voters in particular, who helped it take its tally up to 110 -- just three short of the magical figure to form the government independently in the 224-member assembly.

In the Old Mysore area, which includes both Bangalore urban and rural, the BJP has bagged 28 out of the 84 seats -- an improvement of 15 seats compared to the 2004 elections.

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All parties had pinned their hopes on Bangalore in particular where the seat share had gone up 16 to 28 following the delimitation exercise.

In Bangalore urban and rural areas, the BJP picked up 17 out of the 28 seats while the Congress and the JD-S managed just 10 and one seats respectively.

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In the 2004 elections, the BJP had managed just three seats in Bangalore rural and urban. This would indicate that the party has jumped 14 seats compared to the previous elections.

In the rest of the Old Mysore areas, the BJP managed to win 12 out of the 56 seats. Although it cannot consider it to be a great improvement, it is still two seats better when compared to the polls in the year 2004. The BJP will have to do some introspection where these areas (except Bangalore) are concerned.

Coverage: Battleground Karnataka

The BJP has also shown considerable improvement in the Hyderabad-Karnataka areas where it picked up 19 out of the 39 seats. This again is an improvement of 10 seats as the party had won only nine seats in 2004.

In the central Karnataka, which fell under the second phase of polling, BJP's tally has remained more or less the same compared to the 2004 Karnataka assembly elections. The party has picked up 13 out of the 21 seats -- an improvement of one seat compared to the previous polls.

In the Coastal, Malnad and Kodagu belt, the party has won 16 out of the 20 seats. This tally too remains more or less the same compared to 2004. The party lost two seats in coastal Karnataka this time, but managed to make up for that loss in Kodagu where it swept both the constituencies this time.

The BJP also needs to thank voters of Bagalkot, Gadag and Kodagu where it managed a clean sweep. In Bagalkot, Gadag and Kodagu, the saffron party bagged seven, four and two seats respectively.

In Belgaum, it won, nine out of the 18 seats, Bijapur, five out of eight, Dharwad six out of seven, Bellary eight out of nine and Bangalore 17 out of 28. The BJP will, however, have to improve its standing in Hassan, Mandya, Ramnagara, Chikballapur and Chamarajnagar, where it has not managed to open its account.

Poll pundits say BJP's 2008 standing is largely due to organized work and the projection of B S Yeddyurappa as the chief minister. The party was clear that about its chief ministerial candidate and this was one of the major reasons to sail them through.

Although the Janata Dal-Secular too was clear that H D Kumaraswamy would be its chief ministerial candidate, the party was never in the reckoning for the top slot and was always seen as a possible coalition partner.

Experts also feel that after the coalition drama with the JD-S, the BJP had sought for a chance to prove their mettle in Karnataka and the same was granted to them by the voter, who has never seen this party independently in power in the state.

Moreover, this was the only party, which was ready for the elections. While the Congress in particular was trying to get the polls postponed, the BJP had already commenced work for the elections.

In fact, the party had commenced its election process a month before the dates for the elections were announced. The early announcement of its candidates and also the release of the manifesto, gave the BJP a two-week advantage over its rivals. The sympathy factor was being spoken about during the commencement of the poll process.

However, the BJP could attribute just two per cent of its victory to this factor as it realized that the undercurrent, which was present when it was pulled down from power by the JD-S, was not present during the later stages of the elections.

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