The SCs, which make up around 19.5 per cent of the state’s population, are expected to play a crucial role in the Assembly election on Saturday
On the last day of election campaigning in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Class and Slum Morcha Karyakartas of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s state unit.
The SCs, which make up around 19.5 per cent of the state’s population, are expected to play a crucial role in the Assembly election on Saturday.
Dalits, as a community, are in a position to influence the outcome of at least 100 out of the 224 seats in the state. The Election Commission (EC) has reserved 36 seats for Dalit candidates.
How the parties stack up
According to an opinion poll by India Today-Karvy Insights, around 53 per cent Dalits are likely to vote for the Congress on Saturday.
A report by The Times of India citing a survey conducted by Centre for Studies of Developing Societies (CSDS), states that about 50 per cent Dalit votes in the past have favoured Congress while 20 per cent have favoured BJP.
However, in 2008, BJP won 22 out of the 36 seats reserved for SCs. In 2013, Congress reversed the outcome by winning 17 of the reserved seats — the trend of Dalit votes getting divided became the new normal.
Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has tied up with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) and is contesting from 18 seats. JD(S) is contesting from 184 seats. The BSP has contested elections in the state before but has not been a contender. In 2008, BSP had a vote share of 2.74 per cent. But it came down to 0.94 per cent in 2013.
Karnataka has been a ‘swing state’ and SC/STs have in the past voted for both — the BJP and the Congress. The SC/ST population holds more influence in the eastern region.
However, according to a report by NDTV, the Congress had been marginally ahead in at least the last two Assembly elections in the eastern parts, on an average. The report suggests that the Congress won 28 seats while BJP bagged 24. The JD(S) won seven seats and three seats went to Independent candidates.
In December 2017, JD(S) presumptive CM candidate HD Kumraswamy said, "I promised them if the JD(S) comes to power, a Dalit will be made the deputy CM. I have given the same assurance to the Muslim community also," according to a report by The Times of India.
Dalits in the state are further divided into Madigas and Holeyas. Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge represents the Holeyas and thus the community is considered to be backing them. The Madigas, who are angry at the non-implementation of Justice AJ Sadashiva Commission report on internal reservation, are considered to be supporting the BJP, a The Times of India report suggests.
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