The Congress is likely to emerge as the single largest party in the crucial Karnataka Assembly elections to be held next month but will fall short of an absolute majority, the India Today Group-Karvy Insights opinion poll has found.
Conducted across all 224 Assembly constituencies, the opinion poll reveals that incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah is popular across a variety of social groups, but that will not be enough for the Congress to go past the 112-mark, which the party could miss by around a dozen seats.
The BJP is likely to emerge the runner-up with 78-86 seats. In this scenario, HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal-Secular or JD(S) could play the role of the kingmaker, winning around 34-43 seats.
Most JD (S) voters – 39 per cent – favour an alliance with the Congress over the BJP, the opinion poll finds.
Karnataka is the only state in south India where the BJP has enjoyed power on its own. The run-up to this election has seen hectic campaigning, with Siddaramaiah leading the Congress’s charge, while Amit Shah has been the BJP’s commander so far. The opinion poll results show that 35 per cent of the voters (based on 27,919 interviews) will vote for the BJP.
In 2013, the BJP had suffered a split due to exit of leaders like BS Yeddyurappa, who is now party's chief ministerial candidate, and B Sriramulu. Back then the BJP had got 20 per cent vote share in the Assembly election. The Karnataka Janata Paksha (of Padmanabha Prasanna Kumar and Yeddyurappa) and Badavara Shramikara Raithara Congress Party (BSRCP) of Sriramulu had polled 10 and three per cent votes respectively. The combined vote share of a united BJP in 2013 could have been 33 per cent.
The Congress had secured 37 per cent vote in 2013 to win 122 seats.
The party is likely, the opinion poll suggests, to retain its vote share but it will win fewer seats. The Congress is projected to win 90-101 seats with the same vote percentage. The BJP, on the other hand, is expected to improve its number of seats from 50 (after merger of KJP and BSRCP) to 78-86.
the JD (S), which has entered into an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati, is set to win fewer votes than in 2013. The JD (S)-BSP is likely to get 19 per cent of votes in May 12 election. In 2013, the JD (S) had got 20 per cent and the BSP one per cent of the total votes polled. The party had won 40 seats in 2013 and is expected to win 34-43 seats this time.
Overall 45 per cent respondents said that the Siddharamaiah government should get a chance to govern Karnataka for the next five years. About 44 per cent of Hindus and 65 per cent of Muslims said they wanted the Congress government to come back to power.
About 55 per cent of Kurubas (the caste to which Siddaramaiah belongs) favoured the Congress government if the election was held today. It got support from 37 per cent Vokkaligas, 37 per cent Lingayats and 36 per cent Brahmins (below average support).
Around 53 per cent of Dalits and 48 per cent of Edigas said that they would vote for the Congress in the Assembly election.
The opinion poll was conducted between March 17 and April 5 this year.