Karnataka: Low turnout in key seats leaves candidates jittery

The fate of 434 candidates, who are contesting the parliamentary elections from Karnataka, was sealed on Thursday with polling concluding in all the 28 constituencies. However, some of the high-profile candidates are likely to spend sleepless nights over the next one month till the counting date because of poor voter turnout in key constituencies, particularly at urban centres where the BJP was banking on the ‘Modi wave’ to help it win more seats.
The average voting across the state was 65 per cent as against 58 per cent in the 2009 parliamentary polls. The Election Commission of India is expecting the overall voting to reach at least 68 percent once the tabulations are compete.

The BJP had set a target of 20 plus seats from Karnataka to fuel Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions. The party had predicted higher voter turnout in urban areas because of its campaigning, particularly on the social media projecting Modi as the PM candidate. But in reality, voter turnout did not match the party’s expectations. It had contended that electorate was fed up of the ‘corrupt’ Congress and that the voters would turnout in large numbers at polling booths to vote overwhelmingly for the BJP.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In Bangalore South where Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is contesting the polls against BJP’s poster boy Ananth Kumar, the voter turnout was around 52 percent, which would be a major cause for concern for the sitting MP. During the last election, the polling percentage was even lower at 43 percent and Ananth Kumar won by a slender margin of 37,000+ votes. The BJP was expecting at least 65 percent voting in Bangalore South, because the party was of the view that Modi’s campaign.

Though both Ananth Kumar and Nandan are tight-lipped about the outcome, the latter scored brownie points over the former by exposing some of the alleged violations by the BJP on the day of voting. The constituency continued to be plagued by incomplete voters’ list. For instance, many voters, who had cast their ballot less than a year ago in the Assembly polls, found their names missing from the voters’ list on Thursday.

The Bangalore Central constituency too was no exception, as the voting was above 52 percent. Nandan’s former colleague V Balakrishnan is contesting as a candidate of the AAP in this BJP stronghold. The voting pattern could benefit the Congress, which has fielded youth Congress leader Rizwan Arshad, as Minorities form a decisive vote-bank here.

In Mysore, where Modi’s handpicked candidate Prathap Simha is contesting as the BJP candidate, the voter turnout was 65 percent. Here too, the BJP was expecting more than 75 percent voter turnout because of the ‘Modi wave’. Modi had even addressed a massive rally in Mysore a few days ago.

As usual, the coastal belt where the BJP is strong registered higher voter turnout – 73 percent in Dakshina Kannada and 70 percent in Udupi. Former CM BS Yeddyurappa may have to keep his fingers crossed, as the voting in Shimoga was above 60 percent. Geetha Shivarajkumar, the daughter of former CM S Bangarappa is contesting the polls as a candidate of the Janata Dal (Secular). Her husband Shivarajkumar is a popular Kannada film star and though plenty of actors descended on Shimoga to campaign for Geetha, it looks like their efforts did not help improve the voter turnout.

In Chikkaballapura where Union minister M Veerappa Moily is pitted against former CM HD Kumaraswamy, the voter turnout was a high of 75 percent. The BJP’s BN Bachche Gowda (former minister) is also in the fray and the constituency is being keenly watched, as the result could go in anybody’s favor.

The North Karnataka constituencies of Bidar and Gulbarga once against disappointed with a voter turnout of just above 50 percent. Here, senior Congress leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and Dharam Singh are in the fray. Though polling officials blamed the soaring temperature and heat wave for the poor voter turnout, the BJP’s claim that ‘Modi wave’ was omnipresent in North Karnataka did not motivate the voters to step ut of their homes.

Updated Date: Apr 17, 2014 20:38 PM

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