As the final numbers for the Lok Sabha set in, NDA is looking at a total tally of 353 seats in the Lower House. BJP, driving this surge has also been successful in adding to its spectacular performance in the 2014 General Elections by jumping from 282 in 2014 to 303 in 2019 general election. NDA’s performance in the Hindi heartland has been spectacular in itself. Despite losing in major states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh during assembly elections, BJP has been successful in retaining the popular support it had got in the 2014 general elections.
Joining in the trend from southern India is, Karnataka. In Karnataka BJP has been successful in winning on 25 Parliamentary constituencies out of the total 28 in the state. Considering one BJP supported independent candidate, the Congress and JD(S) in the state have been reduced to just one seat each. The defeat of prominent leaders of the alliance including Mr. Kharge, JD(S) patriarch Deve Gowda, former Congress Union Ministers Veerappa Moily and K.H. Muniyappa, and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda indicate the intensity of the sweep of the BJP.
The Hindu CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey provides a good insight into this surge in the favor of BJP. The survey data indicated that the level of satisfaction with the Central government was reasonably high. Close to three-fourths of the respondents said they were satisfied with the BJP-led government’s performance at the Centre. Castes equations also appeared to be favoring the BJP. With the BJP retaining its Lingayat support in North Karnataka, towards the South in the Vokkaliga dominated old Mysore region, the unpopular alliance between JD(S) and Congress provided BJP with a chance to cut in an electoral slice. Post-poll survey data indicated that close to nine of every 10 Lingayat voters endorsed the BJP, and the party was able to do well both among the non-dominant OBCs and the Dalits.
For Vokkaligas, concentrated in the old Mysore region, their traditional support for the JD(S) also seems to be withering away. The post-poll data indicated that six out of every 10 Vokkaliga votes went this time to the BJP. Experts had suggested that the combined vote share of the Congress and the JD(S) would have trumped BJP however given the rising unpopularity of the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka, these speculations failed conclusively to materialize on the ground. Lack of coordination among Congress and JD(S) ground cadre also contributed to this dismal performance in the LS polls. Within both the alliance there was unhappiness with the choice of candidates. The infighting within these parties could also explain their collective poor performance.
Even among the younger segment BJP was successful in getting the popular support. Strong pro- Modi sentiment and dearth of positive campaign on part of JD(S)-Congress alliance might have led to this surge in favor of the BJP among young voters.
After this conclusive mandate against the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state, speculations over the stability of the state government are also making rounds. With the dismal performance in the LS polls, the ground is also open for blame game between the Congress and The JD(S). Karnataka had presented an interesting situation following the assembly elections in the state with post-poll alliance of JD(S) and the Congress preventing the more popular BJP with a maximum number of seats(104) from forming the government. JD(S) with the least number of seats(37), riding on Congress ‘ desperation, was successful in grabbing the Chief Minister’s post despite Congress being the major contributor to the post-poll coalition with 78 seats.
However, the crown on Kumaraswamy’s head has proven to be a thorny one for more than one reason. Kumaraswamy has not only faced sustained campaign within the alliance since the day he was sworn in but also his party has suffered a setback that will have impacts on the future of the party. As is evident, the main voter base of JD (S), the Vokkaligas, has slipped from the party’s grasp.
Given all the developments, if the government in Karnataka is to fall, Midterm polls might prove to be a good opportunity for the BJP. The momentum gained from this huge sweep in the Lok Sabha polls is also likely to be carried forward in the mid-term assembly elections. Now with new found ground in Old Mysore and Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which are considered the strongholds of JD(S) and Congress respectively, BJP is poised to make huge gains over its tally in the 2018 assembly elections. However With just around a year, from the formation of government the sitting MLA’s might resist fresh polls.