Campaigning has ended in the Karnataka Assembly election, which is all set for a triangular contest among the ruling Congress, lead contender the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal (Secular), which is eyeing to play kingmaker in the contest. The votes will be cast on May 12 for 223 Assembly seats in Karnataka.
Karnataka has always been a cyclical state since the 1989 elections. In 1985, the then Siddaramaiah's boss Ramakrishna Hegde had won a second consecutive term. After that no political party has ever been able to retain the state for two consecutive terms.
Much of this can be attributed to the ever-so-shifting vote share among the main three parties in Karnataka: Congress, BJP and JD(S). This fluctuating vote share can throw up surprises in coming elections, too.
Lingayats also make the elections in Karnataka all the more interesting. The community is a crucial factor in Northern Karnataka, which includes more than a third of Karnataka’s 223 seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, has projected B. S. Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat, as its Chief Ministerial candidate, all through its campaigning. Making Lingayat strongman and the party's chief ministerial candidate to contest from the north could impact 12 districts (96 constituencies) with a loyal Lingayat base.
In 2013, Yeddyurappa floated his own party – the Karnataka Janata Party – on the eve of the state assembly elections, ensuring that the BJP was relegated to the third position while the Congress went on to form the government.
As a result, the Congress garnered almost 15 per cent of the total Lingayat votes in that election.
Will Lingayat votes become the deciding factor this Assembly election too?
(Data Source: ECI, Myneta.info)