The Southern Eclipse

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THE TREND has been apparent for some time now. In November 2012, the Congress is believed to have carried out a private opinion poll that gave the party 110 seats out of 224 in the state Assembly. In December, local media outlets Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha commissioned an opinion poll that said the Congress was likely to win 115 seats and 37 percent of the popular vote, 10 percent ahead of the BJP.

Now, as the results of the C-Voter opinion poll conducted in January 2013 — and published in this issue of TEHELKA — suggest, that mood is solidifying.

(The poll had a sample size of 4,366 randomly selected respondents across Karnataka this month. Data is weighted to the known demographic profile of the state as per the 2001 Census. Margin of error is +/- 3 percent at the state level and +/- 5 percent at the regional level.)

The poll says the Congress will win 37 percent of the vote and could go up to as many as 133 seats in the Assembly. The BJP, on the other hand, will stop at 28 percent of the popular vote, and could lose as many as 47 of the 110 seats it won in 2008 (that number went up following by-elections). Just how much damage Yeddyurappa has done is clear from the 7 percent vote the KJP seems likely to take away, even though it is projected to win only five seats or 2 percent of the House.

The poll results attest to what political observers in Karnataka say about the divide in the BJP family. Yeddyurappa is set to become the Kalyan Singh of Karnataka. Like the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, he will cripple the party with his rebellion, but reduce himself to a fringe player in state politics. A massive 71 percent of respondents felt Yeddyurappa’s departure would hurt the BJP, though 40 percent felt the damage would be temporary. Perhaps the institution will survive the loss of the individual in the long run. Politics, however, is about the short run, and the next election is looming.

As for the Deve Gowda clan, its vote share remains unchanged. The JD(S) continues to get a fifth of the state’s votes, but is predicted to win only 19 seats. This would suggest that in the Vokkaliga stronghold of Old Mysore, it has lost its traditional battle to the Congress.

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Contributing Editor

Ashok Malik has been a journalist for 20 years and is contributing editor at Tehelka. He focuses on Indian domestic politics, foreign/trade policy, and their increasing interplay. In 2011, Ashok co-authored a paper: India’s New World: Civil Society in the Making of Foreign Policy, published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney. It looked at the influence of Indian business, news media and overseas communities on the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. In 2012, Ashok’s book, India: Spirit of Enterprise (Roli Books) was published. It encapsulates the story of the growth of India’s leading private sector industries since 1991, and their role in the Indian economy.