Karnataka’s caste combinations are such placed that apart from the two dominant communities Lingayats and Vokkaligas, the political fortunes of any of the parties are difficult to shine without the support of Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs).
If a caste analysis of 2014 Lok Sabha elections is taken into account, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got maximum support from Lingayats and upper caste Hindus. The Congress drew it’s strength from Muslims, Christians and Scheduled Castes.
The third force — Janata Dal-Secular — was backed most by Vokkaligas. Out of the 28 seats in the state, the BJP had won 17, Congress nine and JD-S two in 2014.
In the last elections, the Congress got 24 percent Lingayat, 23 per cent Vokkaliga, 49 per cent SC, 65 per cent Muslim and 64 per cent Christian votes. The BJP, on the other hand, got 58 per cent Lingayat, 32 per cent Vokkaligga, 60 per cent upper caste Hindu and 42 per cent each of ST and OBC votes.
The JD-S, which is contesting in alliance with the Congress this time, got 38 per cent votes from Vokkaligga, 12 per cent each of Lingayat, OBC and SC votes. Seven seats in the state are reserved (five SC and two ST) and in each one of them the contest is even.
In Chitradurga reserved seat, which goes to polls on April 18, BJP has fielded A. Narayanswamy against sitting MP of the Congress B.N. Chandrappa. Both belong to the dominant Madiga community. From Chamarajanagar, another SC seat, BJP candidate V. Srinivas Prasad, five time MP, is making a come back in electoral politics after a self-declared retirement. He will take on sitting Congress MP R. Dhruvnarayana, seeking a third term.
The Kolar SC seat is also a Congress stronghold with K.H. Muniyappa winning the seat seven times, who is seeking another term. The BJP has fielded S. Muniswamy against him who is giving a tough fight. Muniyyappa, along with Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge are the prominent Congress faces in the state and all three are facing battle of their lifetime.
Kharge is contesting from Gulbarga seat. He is looking to stop Lingayats from inclining towards BJP and keeping hold on backward and Dalit communities. Moily is facing stiff challenge from BJP’s Vokkaliga candidate B.N. Bachegowda Chikkaballapur.
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