BJP faces an uphill battle as Karnataka votes to elect new government

Voter demographics play a crucial role in this election, with a majority of the 5.3 crore voters being below the age of 40.

Published : May 10, 2023 09:58 IST - 4 MINS READ

Heritage ​polling booth​ at Ujjupade in Balnadu village in Puttur constituency on May 9, 2023.

Heritage ​polling booth​ at Ujjupade in Balnadu village in Puttur constituency on May 9, 2023. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Voting commenced with a spirited pace today in the vast majority of the 58,545 polling stations scattered across Karnataka. The electorate’s mission is to select a party to govern the State for the next five years, as part of a single-phase poll taking place on May 10. Notably, the ruling party has not been returned to power since 1985. A total of 2,615 candidates are vying for victory in the 224 Legislative Assembly constituencies, with results scheduled to be announced on May 13.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finds itself facing an uphill battle, beset by grave allegations of corruption and inefficiency. In contrast, the Congress party’s campaign appears to resonate with voters, conveying the impression that it has successfully won their favour. This sentiment has been reflected in nine opinion polls conducted by various organisations. Remarkably, one survey conducted by a news outlet now firmly aligned with the BJP revealed that over 50 per cent of Karnataka residents sampled did not wish to see the BJP regain power.

The Janata Dal (Secular) is anticipated to maintain its influence over Mysore Karnataka and may play a pivotal role as kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly. Forecasts from prominent satta bazars heavily favour the Congress, predicting a clear majority, while the BJP is projected to secure only 60 or so seats.

For Mallikarjun Kharge, the newly elected president of the Congress party, this election marks a significant milestone as his first major campaign in his home State of Karnataka. Meanwhile, the BJP’s stakes in this election are high as it is the only major party in power in a southern Indian State, and it is determined to retain control at any cost. (Although the BJP holds power in Puducherry as well, its alliance with the All India NR Congress renders it a non-BJP stronghold, where political actors regularly switch parties alongside the changing party in power.)

Issues that matter

Voter demographics play a crucial role in this election, with an overwhelming majority of the 5.3 crore voters being below the age of 40. Consequently, most voters have no recollection of a ruling party being reelected. The 18-19 age group comprises nearly 11 lakh voters, while the 20-29 age group totals close to 99 lakh voters. The second-largest voting bloc falls within the 30-40 age bracket, encompassing approximately 1.4 crore individuals. According to data from the Election Commission of India, there are 1.8 crore voters in the 41-60 age group, providing insight into the State’s demographic profile. Notably, over 88 lakh individuals are aged 60 and above.

Voter apathy has emerged as a recurring theme in Karnataka, prompting political parties to employ various strategies to encourage voter turnout. To this end, the Election Commission has established booths exclusively for women and persons with disabilities in certain locations, aiming to motivate their participation. Women-managed polling stations have also been set up, with a few booths in Mandya adorned in pink to specifically attract female voters.

Shortly after casting his vote, actor Prakash Raj, known for his vocal opposition to the BJP and its policies, expressed his views on Twitter. He tweeted, “Good morning Karnataka... I have voted against communal politics... against a corrupt government... Do vote with your conscience... do vote for an inclusive Karnataka.” Addressing the media, he emphasised the need to reject communal politics and strive for a beautiful Karnataka.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet published in both Kannada and English, urged the people to exercise their right to vote. The two tweets were posted just over an hour apart, with the first, in English, appearing at 6:56 am, shortly before the polling stations opened at 7 am. Prime Minister Modi’s Kannada tweet followed at 8:02 am.

Rahul Gandhi, an iconic figure within the Congress party, also took to Twitter to encourage voters. At 7:15 am, he posted a tweet in Hindi urging the people of Karnataka to cast their votes. “Karnataka’s vote will be for the Five guarantees (promises of the Congress), for women’s rights, for youth employment, for the upliftment of the poor… Come, vote in large numbers. Let us build a “40% commission free” progressive Karnataka together,” he tweeted.


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