Karnataka state election, 2013

This Friday, 5 May, is the general election for the state legislature of Karnataka, a major state in the south of India (capital Bangalore). The state is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); in fact it is one of the rare states outside of the north where the party has ruled recently. With general elections due for the federal government within in a year–and potentially coming earlier–this is a key state contest to watch.

The BJP is facing a major challenge in projecting a national leader and PM candidate. It is widely expected to endorse Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister (state PM) of Gujarat. Modi campaigned today in Karnataka. However, Modi’s past associations with communal violence means that his nomination would cause severe tensions with coalition partners in the National Democratic Alliance, the BJP-ruled opposition alliance. ((Tensions are especially high the Janata Dal (United), which currently rules the northern state of Bihar in coalition with the BJP. The Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, has hinted at quitting the NDA is Modi is its PM candidate.)) Thus Karnataka is a test not only for the BJP and NDA as units, but for Modi personally.

The federal ruling party, the Indian National Congress (which rules through the United Progressive Alliance), has dispatched its national leader, Sonia Gandhi, to campaign in Karnataka as well.

The BJP has experienced internal splits in the state, including the launching of a new party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), by former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. The BJP is unlikely to retain a majority of seats. Yeddyurappa has stated that, “There is no question of going back to the BJP”. If Congress likewise does not win a majority, a Congress-KJP post-poll alliance is likely.

4 thoughts on “Karnataka state election, 2013

  1. Congress wins Kanataka as expected, and JD(S) is likely the opposition. It is tied in seats with the BJP, but if it got more votes (almost tied there too) it outranks the BJP. Or perhaps the one deferred constituency will decide. The Janata Dal (Secular) was for years the only Indian affiliate of the Socialist International (I don’t know why it is not now so listed). Of course, almost every Indian politician has claimed to be a socialist at one time or another. The new Congress leader of Karnataka, says his son, “imbibed socialist values in us from childhood. He was deeply hurt when he was expelled from the Janata Dal (Secular).” And the largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh, is governed by the Samajwadi Party (literally, Socialist Party). Still, it’s interesting that the JD(S) is making a comeback, since its leader (and father of its Karnataka state leader)H. D. Deve Gowda initiated in 1996 the last “Third Front” government of India (neither Congress nor BJP). Karnataka, with 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, includes the IT capital of India, its state capital Bangalore, whose 28 Assembly members include 13 Congress, 12 BJP, and 3 JD(S), but the JD(S) came second in 6 of those constituencies.

  2. I don’t have complete results, but it seems the Congress won its majority on roughly 36% of votes. Of course, in the world of FPTP elections, there is nothing especially remarkable about that.

  3. The split in the BJP meant that BJP’s vote share declined by a whopping 13%, from 33.86% (2008) to 19.95% (2013). That is nearly as much as the combined vote-share gain of the KJP and BSRC. The KJP polled 9.84% and BSRC secured 2.69% of votes.

    Congress’s addition of a mere 2% votes, along with a split in BJP’s vote share, has added 41 seats to the former’s 2008 tally, giving it a simple majority of 121 seats. JD(S)’s position is no different; it improved its vote-share by just 1.15%, from 18.95% (2008) to 20.10% (2013). That is an addition of just 3 lakh voters since 2008. So neither Congress nor JD(S) can claim the 2013 mandate to be an endorsement of their party or strategy.

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