Karnataka Poll Results: Anlaysis on the Ground

Again, the figures first.

The BJP triumph in Karnataka was a commonsense conclusion. Only the most foolhardy could make a contrary argument. But we have them aplenty. Yogendra Yadav, the psephologist whose statistical impetuousness only equals his record number of failed projections stands tall in that list.

Watching TV for the better half of yesterday was exciting. The BJP’s lead surged early when the results started trickling in. The gap in the lead between the BJP and the Congress was a steady 30+ seats with the JD(S) occupying a comfortable single-digit position. The final tally surprised no one but the idiot news anchors (mostly the national news channels) who kept yelling in mindless (feigned?) shock. You can forgive them because they are far away from the battlescene but they must surely have some of the most incompetent field staff. The local news channels were more level-headed.

In an earlier post, I had noted that Deve Gowda & co has virtually gifted this election to the BJP. Within four years, the JD(S), riding purely on blackmail and extreme haughtiness has reduced itself to a nonentity. It is a failed business enterprise. As a certain Milind, a party spokesperson noted, the political suicide of the JD(S) was scripted by (Deve Gowda-blessed) the mass exodus of senior leaders. He understandably omitted mentioning the worst sort of rug-pulling his CEO indulged in.

The post-results debate was interesting. Across party lines, the Defeated attributed BJP’s success to exactly one factor: preparedness and work. A Congress leader observed that the BJP began preparing for polls from the day Yeddyurappa lost power. BJP leaders credit this success to Arun Jaitley’s orchestrations and some really dedicated groundwork by party workers. For the dirt on what went in BJP’s favour etc, “expert” analyses provide the necessary (but boring) meal. The Congress has only itself to blame as I had observed earlier. It lived purely on hope and amazing callousness. That it managed to garner 80 seats is proof of the triumph of hope over hard work. The focus of this post is to present an “on the ground” analysis of some interesting aspects of this election.

One marked outcome was the defeat of “heavyweights” and serial winners. R.V. Deshpande, Dharam Singh, (former Chief Minister, with an unbeaten winning record of 8 times to his credit lost by a margin of 612 votes to a fledgling BJP candidate), M.P. Prakash (former deputy Chief Minister, who walked out out of the JD(S) lost to a BJP candidate), H.K. Patil, Ambareesh, D.B. Chandre Gowda, Anil Lad, Chennigappa (former Minister), Cheluvarayaswamy (former Minister), and Vatal Nagaraj (a non-entity but known nuisance, who always won from Chamarajnagar). The biggest shocker was the defeat of former Chief Minister, S.Bangarappa who contested on the SP ticket. Known as the “undefeated King,” he was pitted directly against Yeddyurappa. The Congress and JD(S) did not field any candidate as part of a prepoll arrangement with him. Both parties threw their full weight in his support to defeat Yeddyurappa. Bangarappa failed to disclose where he would contest from. When he finally contested from Shikharipura, Yeddyurappa trounced him with an overwhelming 45,927 votes. Also, the BJP defeated both his sons, Madhu and Kumar with gigantic margins. As a news anchor remarked, Bangarappa’s cycle (his election symbol) has been punctured.

This points to an interesting but relatively surprising trend. The defeat of guaranteed winners in record numbers in their home constituencies lends credibility to the fact that voting was party-based than candidate-based.

The BJP still needs 3 seats to make the magic number. It should be easy for the BJP to sway at least 4 of the 6 independents to form the government.

As I remarked earlier, this is the BJP’s first chance in Karnataka. It is in their hands to ensure that it doesn’t become its last.

8 comments for “Karnataka Poll Results: Anlaysis on the Ground

  1. Jiggs
    May 27, 2008 at 3:33 PM

    My question is what has to be done with the MSM????? We can rant, rave and boil our blood here on this forum, but what can we do??????

    My suggestion is that once the BJP/NDA is back in the driver’s seat in 2009, some of us ( whoever has some proximity) with the BJP, must suggest as commission be set up and the whole issue, must be investigated.

    Arun Jaitley made a very apt statement after Gujarat 2007, that the MSM should answer for their blatant lies to the nation.

    Guys….I am sure some of us some resources with the Nationalist forces and we must make good use of it and expose the MSM and it’s Padamashri winning Rascals….

  2. Jiggs
    May 27, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    There is a superb piece in the Economic Times today on such fly by night pollster’s, read on:

    People have cast their votes, but pundits come up with a new spin

    Our Political Bureau NEW DELHI

    “THE results from Karnataka have left a section of psephologists and political pundits with egg on their faces, to wipe off which they have begun indulging in their favourite sport — kiteflying.”

    We are now told by the pundits that with its current vote share gathered in the assembly elections, the BJP will just about manage 10 seats to the Lok Sabha from the state. It is nothing short of incredulous since such an analysis can only be based on the premise that elections are contested in a frozen context. Not only is that not the case, the argument can be insulting to any vibrant democracy.
    Commentators have put forth the rather spurious argument that BJP’s current assembly vote share — 33.9 % — can enable it to get only 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state, while the Congress, whose vote share is a mere 0.7 % more than that of the BJP, has the potential to win 14 seats.
    A perusal of the pattern of polling, vote percentages and seats won by the two major players in past elections in Karnataka rejects this “theory”. In 2004, Karnataka saw simultaneous elections being held for the assembly and the Lok Sabha and the voting patterns in the two differed vastly. While the BJP got just 28.3% votes in the assembly polls, it mopped up 34.8% votes in the Lok Sabha election.
    In the 2004 assembly election, the Congress won 35.1% of the votes polled compared to the BJP’s 28.3%, yet the Grand Old Party ended up with 14 seats less than the BJP. Further proof that there is no correlation between voting percentage and seats won. Of course, this is always shown up as one of the biggest fallacies of the “first past the post” electoral system. It tends to exaggerate the results in favour of the winner. The pundits will probably now turn and say, change the system. And if even that doesn’t work, say change the people.
    The simplistic psephological argument does not hold good for other reasons as well. It will be hard political issues at the time of voting that decide the outcome. And there is no shortage of hard political and economic issues in the state, as indeed in the country, for people to show the incumbent the door.
    The just-concluded elections showed that the BJP, despite saddled with the memories of a squabbling coalition in Bangalore, managed to close the gap between it and the Congress in terms of vote percentage. The BJP was also successful in persuading the voter that it can provide a stable government in the state.
    Now that the BJP has made the point that it can do it on its own, the possibility of voters switching horses in its favour in the coming days is not unreal. Equally, a failure to provide a decent administration can go against the BJP when the state votes for its MPs. Put simply, it will be issues at that point and not mere numbers in the last hustings that decide the winner.
    The Congress cannot rely on the idle psephological argument as the state election has shown that the Centre’s track record will be a chief consideration for the voter. The attempts to put the blame for the rising prices on global conditions and state governments, while the Centre protests its innocence and a heart-of-gold image have failed to pass muster. The Congress also paid a heavy price for the Centre’s reckless handling of terrorist strikes in the country’s hinterland.
    It will not be any psephological argument that will bring down the BJP’s current Lok Sabha tally from the state, but its governance and a failure to hold on to the social coalition that it forged in the current round. Persisting with the belief that the vote percentages of an election gone by would translate into seats for a politicial formation in a future election is to try to attempt to make nonsense of the reality of dynamic politics. Such realities hardly matter for psephologists who routinely collect liberal splashes of yolk on their faces.

  3. May 27, 2008 at 10:48 AM

    What role did redrawing of boundaries have, in these elections? I think that can explain the drubbing many heavyweights received. It is to BJP’s credit that it anticipated that old loyalties will change with the remapping of constituencies.

    All in all a welcome result! The biggest lesson from these elections is, that the English language media often accurately predicts the outcome of the elections. Just reverse their projections, and you will get a correct prediction. In Gujarat, Congress had all but won the elections, if you went by their projections. Even the Congress believed these worthies, and Sonia Amma, went and made some silly comment (straight out of Bollywood, which lends credence to the theory that it was scripted by Javed Akhtar) about Maut Ke Saudagars and Narendra Modis. She seemed to have forgotten a blast a month that her government has overseen. What is it about people living in glass houses :evil:?

    This time too, I think CNN IBN made a prediction giving Congress 90 – 95 seats, and the BJP 75 seats. They are nothing if not consistent :grin:. Just two days before the Karnataka results were announced, ToI featured a survey (dont remember by who), which said that the Manmohan Singh government’s approval ratings have increased in the past 12 months, while those of NDA (read BJP) have declined. The results from Bangalore seem to reflect an alternate reality.

    Forgive me for gloating, but these commie sympathising left liberals remind me of a line from Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pip said that Herbert mistook his intention for execution. These wannabe political commentators and psephologists likewise have mistaken their political inclinations for public view. All the same I have no reason to believe that Outlook will not conduct a survey early next year predicting 280+ seats for the UPA. But I will not hold my breath for that prediction being fulfilled :grin:.

    There’s hope yet for Bangalore and India.

  4. Sandeep
    May 26, 2008 at 6:51 PM


    Fully agree with your analysis. Just to add to it, I just hope the Congress does no such foolishness unless it listens to the numerous power-hungry idiots that have risen to the stature of “political advisers.” One of the leaders on TV mentioned something to the effect of the independents always aligning with the winner so I guess some sanity (at least outwardly) still prevails in the party. But one cannot be too sure. As for the independents pulling the BJP from different directions, I think the BJP can settle it by throwing crumbs at them from time to time. Power pelfs as you see, is the independents’ only motivator.

  5. Shanth
    May 26, 2008 at 5:53 PM

    Hi Sandeep,
    Nice to see you back in action.

    I too wish BJP does well in Karnataka and move into Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Kerala.

    There is a pukeworthy article I read in Indianexpress.


    I fail to understand how Sanskrit is supposed to be violent.


  6. Ot
    May 26, 2008 at 5:39 PM

    I believe the game is not over yet.

    The BJP has 110 seats and the reliable support of ONE independent who is a BJP rebel. That takes the number to 111. It may for the time being manage to garner the support of two more independents (cong and JD(S) rebels) but the party will have to pay a heavy price for their support and will continue to be at their mercy, because these two have no ideological commitment to the BJP. They will remain opportunist.

    Congress and JD(S) put together have 108. If five independents support them, the tally will be 113. News is out that they are already trying to lure their rebels back.

    The big question therefore is, will Cong and JD(S) do it? I personally think JD(S) is all out for it for several reasons. Deva Gowda knows his party can never be in government all by itself. It will always have to be a coalition for him. He also knows it will be difficult to keep his small flock together if they are not in power. Placing short-term interests over the long-term, he will be willing for a tie-up with the Congress at the latter’s terms, but perhaps expecting to extract his pound of flesh later (including in the Lok Sabha elections). Also, the Congress is not a threat for him at this moment, because Congress gains nothing by splitting his party.

    Will the Congress do it? It will, if it is convinced of running a coalition government with JD(S) for long enough (say, 3-4 years). If there are elections within a year or two, it will get a severe drubbing, and meet the same fate as JD(S) met today. In fact, if it should form a government with JD(S), it will have a uphill task neutralizing the massive amount of public contempt it will face for denying BJP a chance. That itself will take 2 years. Recall Bihar and what happened to Paswan.

    So, the question of who will form the next government, in my view, is dependent on Congress’s assessment of the risks of going with JD(S). If the party has any brains, and is driven not by uncontrollable urge for power, it will bide its time for now, maybe till after LS elections, and then strike.

    Look at it which way, I’m not convinced that KA is going to see a stable government. Because BJP fell short of just 3 seats.

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