Karnataka pre-poll survey ahead of 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls: Bad news coming for BJP, good for Congress if survey is right.

 

A pre-poll survey ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 has predicted a Congress win, while the BJP would finish second if the polls were to be held today.

The survey was carried out by C Fore between July 19 and August 10. It predicted Congress would win around 120-132 seats, while BJP will improve its tally from the last time to 60-72. JD(S) is expected to get 24-30 seats. The survey predicts that Congress is likely to get a vote share of around 43%, BJP will get around 32% votes and JD(S) around 17.

‘C Fore’ is a multidisciplinary research organization .It specializes in election surveys, market research, opinion polls and performance appraisal of education institutions. ‘C Fore’ has been conducting election surveys fo the past 14 years, the accuracy rate so far has been about 95 percent. ‘C Fore’ predicted that the Congress would win the Assembly election with a projected 43 per cent vote share as against the BJP’s 32 per cent share.

C-Fore claimed it carried out the survey between July 19 and August 10 in 165 constituencies in the state. It said that it took responses from 24,679 voters who were interviewed across 550 locations in rural Karnataka and 340 locations in the urban part of the state.

The tenure of the Karnataka Assembly ends in May 2018 and the state is expected to go to polls around April 2018. The official notification for the dates of polling for the 225-member Assembly will be released by the Election Commission of India in the coming months.

At present, the Congress holds 123 seats in the Assembly while the BJP has 44. Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal  (Secular) has 32 members. It won 40 seats but eight of its MLAs stand suspended.

However, BJP chief Amit Shah last week promised a BJP win in Karnataka. During a three-day visit to the state, Shah said, “I have come here with a firm will to bring the BJP back to power in the state. I can sense the mood of the people to give our party an opportunity again to serve them.”

Shah indicated the party may be banking on the goodwill of Prime Minister Narendra Modi  to a great degree for them to achieve poll success in the state. “We will fight the election under Yeddyurappaji’s leadership… but it is quite natural that the BJP would reap poll benefits by way of goodwill shown to Karnataka by Modi government at the Centre by doling out grants for development,” Shah had said.

Shah said BJP would try to win 150 out of 225 assembly seats to form the next government in the state. ” “It will be a BJP government this time to free the people from the corrupt and incompetent Congress government in the state. We will make Karnataka also a Congress-free state, as we did in other states,” sources  reported him as saying.  

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has used his tenure as CM judiciously to shore up this support. The upper castes, largely Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who have dominated the state’s politics since Independence, are seen to favour the BJP and JD(S) respectively.

His government has allotted substantial funds for free food grains and milk to the poor, and for schemes meant for backward classes, Dalits and minorities. Nearly Rs 16,000 crore, or 24 per cent of the budget, is set aside annually for SC/ST communities, twice that by previous governments.

Despite the slew of populist schemes, Siddaramaiah has maintained fiscal discipline. The deficit of the state in 2017-18 is expected to be Rs 33,359 crore, which is 2.61 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and within fiscal discipline norms.

Sources attribute it to the wise choice of officers in key positions, including chief secretary, finance secretary. The long time Siddaramaiah has spent in government, presenting a record 12 state budgets, has come in handy.

Siddaramaiah  said though the state was reeling under severe drought for the past few years, there has not been a single case of death due to starvation. This, he attributed, to the Anna Bhagya scheme under which rice is distributed to the people through the Public Distribution System.

“Nearly 1.08 crore BPL card holders accounting to about four crore people are deriving benefit of the scheme,” said the CM, who claimed that consequent to its introduction, distress migration from rural to urban areas due to hunger, had also reduced. It is the same concern for the poor which led the government to introduce 198 Indira Canteens in Bengaluru to help the urban poor get nutritious and quality food at nominal rates, he added.

The introduction of Anna Bhagya and Ksheera Bhagya schemes has helped reduce the school drop-out rate, besides increasing the school enrolment rates in the state, said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

In a party severely lacking leaders who can hold their own, Siddaramaiah is being talked of now as even a possible regional foil to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ,his brand of “social justice-based” political agenda the answer to the BJP’s “development, divisive agenda”. 

The Siddaramaiah government has also remained free of major corruption charges. An investigation in 2016 by the income tax department against a close aide, K Govindaraju, had unearthed a diary carrying suspected records of money being given to Congress leaders in Karnataka and Delhi. But the probe went nowhere.

Another key allegation was that the government had de-notified over 541 acres of government land to generate funds for the 2014 general elections. The inquiry report, submitted recently, is believed to have given a clean chit to Siddaramaiah and the Congress.

Groomed in socialist politics, Siddaramaiah ventured into public life under late farmers’ rights leader and Lohiaite Prof M D Nanjundaswamy. The Emergency soon followed, and the young lawyer found himself in the company of vociferously anti-government Kannada writers such as Dalit author Devanuru Mahadeva. He has retained those links with the Kannada intelligentsia, helping him hone his proud Kannadiga credentials.  Siddaramaiah sees his politics as shaped by socialist thinking, Lohiaite ideas and Ambedkarite Dalit movements.

Congress sources say the central leadership is so optimistic that it would like to go to polls by the end of the year, alongside Gujarat, in order to ensure that the Modi-Shah combine does not steal its thunder. Siddaramaiah wants to be the first CM to complete a full-five year term in the state in a long time, and the Congress is in the mood to oblige.

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