Voters have given their verdict. BJP has once again made a clean sweep in Bengaluru, repeating the 2009 Parliamentary election pattern. However, there are some differences this time. We take a look at the numbers:
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Ananth Kumar won the seat for the sixth time comfortably, with a margin of over 2.2 lakhs (56.9% of total polled votes). Nandan Nilekani got a sizeable number of votes (36.4% of the total polled votes), but it wasn’t enough to propel him to victory.
The takeaway is this: The competition was fierce and limited to BJP and Congress, with very few votes for AAP (21,403), JD(S) (25,677) and others (26,892). Deep polarisation was seen in the voting pattern.
DV Sadananda Gowda became the MP of Bangalore North – the biggest constituency of Karnataka. The margin of victory was around 2.2 lakhs again, with him claiming 53% of total polled votes. Congress cadidate Narayana Swamy got 4.8 lakh votes (36% of the total polled votes), but could not win the race.
Here as well, the competition was limited to BJP and Congress, while AAP scored 28,107 votes, JD(S) got 92,681 votes and others got 27,696 votes.
Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad lost the race in Bangalore Central to second-time contestant, PC Mohan. The margin of victory was more than 1.3 lakhs. PC Mohan secured 557,130 votes (51.8% of total polled votes), while Rizwan Arshad got 419,630 votes (39% of total polled votes).
The vote for AAP in Bangalore Central was better than the other two constituencies (39,869), but not enough to make a mark. JD(S) got 20,387 votes while others got 38,374 votes.
NOTA – the last resort?
There was no need to struggle trying to figure out how to use 49-0 rule in this election, as the Election Commission included the option of voting for None Of The Above, by introducing the NOTA button in the Electronic Voting Machines. This has attracted some voters, and the number of NOTA votes has been more than the null votes cast under 49-O rule so far.
The number of NOTA votes is highest in Bangalore North – as many as 11,996 voters chose to use this option. This is followed by 7,414 NOTA votes in Bangalore South, and 8,449 votes in Bangalore Central.
In effect, the voting trend has changed in Bangalore; since 2013 elections BJP vote share has risen dramatically. It is a whopping increase from 965,090 to 1,346,939. The Congress party has lost around 33,000 votes since 2013. Other parties have lost votes heavily. Non-Congress non-BJP parties had got 973,662 votes in 2013, while it shrunk to 321,086 this time.
The number of new voters registered was around 5 lakh. Whether it is the growing need for change, or the Modi wave, people have voted for BJP in Bangalore in large numbers. It remains to be seen whether the MPs will be able to solve Bangalore’s problems, as they now enjoy a majority at the centre and will have a say in the crucial matters of governance.
Here is what Sandeep Shastri, who heads Lokniti, the research programme of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), had to say about the results over a telephonic interview:
How did the Nilekani vs Ananth Kumar battle playout in Bangalore South?
We will need to budget in 3-4 factors into the analysis. First, this has been a traditionally strong BJP seat and Nandan was making an effort to win here. Secondly, Ananth Kumar pitched his campaign very carefully – as a campaign which was Modi vs. Rahul. He very cleverly and astutely deflected attention from himself. One of the important charges that were levied against him was that his performance as an MP was nothing to write home about. He also had the recent memory of the BJP government in the State. How do you deflect attention from that? He said that voting for me is like adding another seat towards Modi’s march towards 272. So that clicked. And also the anger against the UPA, which is visibly there among the urban voters. This unhappiness as well, Ananth Kumar capitalised on. And all of this worked against Nandan. Nandan in some sense was the right person in the wrong party. Or the right person using the wrong platform. I’m not sure if that we would have seen the same results had Nandan contested as an independent. If he had, he wouldn’t had had to carry the Congress party and its non-performance as baggage.
What could Nandan have done differently; apart from him maybe contesting independently?
There were people in Nandan’s campaign, who were close to him and loyal to him and who wanted him to win. Then there was also the Congress machinery campaign. The two could have been aligned better; it sometimes appeared that the two campaigns were going on parallely.
Would Nandan have had more of a chance if he had contested from AAP?
In retrospect, it does appear that the Congress ticket was like a chain that held him back. It was baggage that he was forced to carry and that was not taking him anywhere. That’s increasingly becoming visible. If you look at the Election results through the country, its a clear indictment of the UPA government and this was much stronger in urban India. People might have said he’s a great candidate, but then he’s aligned with a party that people don’t think very highly of at this juncture.
Overall the calibre of candidates across parties for these seats this time was seemingly better than before. How did that change anything?
I don’t think this mattered. It was clearly a fight between these 2 parties.
Did Modi factor work in Bangalore? Or did the winners in BJP won on their own clout?
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, BJPs good performance in Karnataka has a lot to do with the use of the Modi factor.
Did the state government’s performance matter?
In Karnataka it wasn’t a route like many other states – the type of sweep in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Here such a sweep was prevented; because of the work of the state government, they were able to salvage a few seats and win those seats. In that sense, the BJP has won the majority of seats in Karnataka, but has not totally wiped out the Congress. And the Congress has not been wiped out simply because of the reasonably good work that the state has done.