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Published On:17 May 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Lessons from Karnataka polls

By Syed Amin Jafri

The May 5 elections in Karnataka saw the BJP being comprehensively routed and the Congress storming to power. One of the contributory factors for BJP's loss and the windfall of seats for Congress was the voting behavior of minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. Having suffered a lot during the five-year BJP rule, these minorities were waiting for the right opportunity to punish the saffron party. However, the Muslims continue to remain under-represented in the new Assembly.

Only 11 Muslims have been elected to the 224-member House this time compared to eight in the previous Assembly. It marks some improvement but there remains a huge gap vis-a-vis the percentage of Muslims in the state's total population. Muslims account for 12.5% of the population and hence, should get no less than 28 seats. Eleven seats mean only 4.9% representation.

Muslims constituted over 15% of the electorate in 65 constituencies which comprises 29% of the 224 seats. Among these 65 constituencies, their population was over 40% in seven constituencies, 30% in 12 segments, 25% in six segments, 20% in 10 segments and over 15% in 30 constituencies. Incidentally, it is in these 65 constituencies that the BJP suffered major reverses.

In 2008, the BJP had bagged 34 out of these 65 seats but its tally dropped to 13 this time. The Congress, meanwhile, secured 35 seats, a gain of 12 seats. Janata Dal (Secular) improved its tally to nine from eight while the KJP, BSR Congress, KMP and SP shared the remaining eight seats. However, Muslim candidates won only 10 of these 65 seats compared to eight in 2008.

The Congress swept across all major regions of Karnataka and gained a significant chunk of Muslim and Christian votes. In its strongholds, the JD(S) too got Muslim votes but the success rate of its Muslim candidates was far lower than that of the Congress. Both the parties had fielded 18 Muslim candidates each but nine were elected from Congress and two from JD(S). Muslim candidates from KJP and BSRCP drew a blank. In all, a dozen Muslim contestants were runners-up in their constituencies.

The Muslim electors across Karnataka voted tactically this time, unlike in 2008 when the sharp division in votes between Congress and JD(S) had helped BJP gain a simple majority. However, in a few Muslim-dominated constituencies like Bidar, Raichur and Hebbal, the friendly fights among Muslim candidates of major parties resulted in the victory of non-Muslim nominees.

Ironically, two minority parties — Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Welfare Party of India (WPI) — fared very badly, indicating that the Muslim voters cold-shouldered them as they did not offer a viable alternative like the mainstream secular parties, Congress and JD(S).

The SDPI had fielded 24 candidates in alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Except in one constituency - Narasimharaja — where it stood second, the party lost its security deposit in the remaining segments. Overall, the SDPI polled 1 lakh votes.

WPI had contested a dozen seats but it could get only 10,000 votes. All its candidates lost their deposit. Incidentally, both these parties had concentrated on minority-dominated constituencies. But they could not offer credible alternative or formidable candidates to inspire voters.

With non-Muslim candidates winning from 55 Muslim-dominated constituencies, it shows that a majority of Muslim voters support secular parties and candidates. Hence, one of lessons from Karnataka is that the minorities would vote decisively and tactically in favour of secular alternatives and against saffron outfits if they are pushed to the wall. Secondly, though the minorities vote for non-minority candidates, the mainstream parties should ensure that they are adequately represented in the Assembly by giving tickets to more Muslim and Christian candidates.

[The writer is a member of legislative council and a journalist]

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on May 17, 2013. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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