Why Is the BJP Predicted To Incur Losses Even in Coastal & Mumbai-Karnataka?

In both Coastal Karnataka and Mumbai Karnataka - BJP's strongholds, the saffron party seems to be losing ground.

Hindi Female

The ABP-CVoter opinion poll or survey, released on Wednesday, 29 March, has predicted a clear win for the Congress party in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections.

As per the poll, Congress is expected to win 115 to 127 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will get 68 to 80 seats, and the Janata Dal (Secular) will get 23 to 35 seats.

Not just that, in both Coastal Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka (also known as Kittur Karnataka), which have traditionally been BJP strongholds, the saffron party seems to be losing its foothold.

What explains this decline? Did the Hijab issue have an impact? We answer.


Speaking to The Quint, political analyst and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Jain University, Sandeep Shastri, said, "In the last month, ever since the Lokayukta case against BJP MLA (Virupakshappa) and his son, the party has been on the back foot. This created the perception that the party is not serious about fighting corruption (since no immediate action was taken against the MLA)."

Click here to understand all about the bribery scandal.

Coastal Karnataka

Coastal Karnataka comprises of three regions - Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada. In the 2018 elections, the BJP had swept the subregion, winning 18 out of 21 seats.

Known as a communal tinderbox, the subregion is also where the hijab issue had come up.

This time, as per the CVoter opinion poll, the BJP however is expected to lose around seven seats, while the Congress, which had won only three seats in 2018, is expected to win 10 seats.

Speaking to The Quint, Shastri pointed out a combination of three factors:

  • Communal polarisation has been attempted but in Coastal Karnataka it had already peaked. So, there was little scope for it to expand anymore and to garner votes on that principle seemed very limited.

  • There is also an element of disenchantment in the core cadres, especially those who support the BJP - the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal, among others.

To support his point, he pointed out how state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel's car was jolted by protestors (from the BJP Yuva Morcha) anguished over the murder of Praveen Nettaru.

Nettaru was allegedly hacked to death in the Dakshina Kannada district. Following the murder, BJP Yuva Morcha members had taken to streets protesting against the BJP's alleged incapability to protect the lives of party workers.

"There is a sentiment that the ones who are the footsoldiers of the party are not necessarily those who get the benefits," Shastri added.

  • Thirdly, Shastri pointed out, "it is possible that an element of anti-incumbency is also setting in. Most of the MLAs have been there for several terms."



Kittur Karnataka is another crucial region for the BJP, with its Lingayat voter base and 50 Assembly seats. The region consists of Belagavi, Dharwad, Vijayapura, Bagalkote, Gadag, and Haveri.

In 2018, the BJP had won 30 seats from the region, while Congress had won 17, and the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) had won two seats.

Though the vote share for the BJP is expected to decrease only by 1.5 percent, the party is expected to lose seven seats, as per the ABP-CVoter poll.

Meanwhile, the vote share for Congress is expected to increase by 4.4 percent. With this, the grand old party is predicted to win 27 seats, 10 more than last time.

Speaking to The Quint, Shastri said:

"This is an area where the Lingayat vote is very important. The fact that the tallest Lingayat leader (BS Yediyurappa) in the party is not a chief minister candidate, and the CM (Basavaraj Bommai) who is a Lingayat leader, has not been declared by the party as the CM candidate either."

"For more than two decades, the community knew that if they voted for the party then they will have a Lingayat CM, but the party's stance is not clear this time," he added.

Another challenge for the BJP-led state government is the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute. Both the BJP state governments have repeatedly engaged in a tug-of-war to lay claim to over 800 border villages. Further, while the saffron party had the support of Shiv Sena in 2018, its split into two factions can possibly result in a decrease in support from the Marathi speaking population in Karnataka.

It is important to point out that the opinion poll was gathered up until 3 March. 21 days later, just before the elections for the state assembly were announced, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai announced a slew of changes in the reservation list for Backward Classes (BC), Scheduled Castes, and Muslims.

  • As per the new reservation regime announced on 24 March, dominant castes Lingayats and Vokkaligas will each get additional two percent reservation within the BC list. To do this, the government scrapped 2B category reservation for Muslims to increase the quota for Lingayats and Vokkaligas.

  • Further, six percent of reservation within the Scheduled Castes list was set aside for Madigas, and the rest was divided among other Dalit castes making sub-caste reservation mandatory in Karnataka. As per the new classification, the Holeyas or Right Dalits will now have 5.5 percent and Touchable Dalits including the Banjaras will get 4.5 percent reservation within the SC list.

The state Cabinet decision led to protests by Banjaras and Muslims. In Shivamogga, on 27 March, the protesters targeted former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's home in Shikaripura.

Speaking on these developments, Shastri said, "There may not be a backlash from the Lingayats, but there could very well be a backlash from the BCs, who now see the Lingayat and Vokkaligas as having a larger share in the reservation."

He added, "The non-dominant BCs is an important electoral group - a group that the BJP was trying to woo away from Congress (since Congress leader Siddaramaiah has been a prominent face in the non-dominant BCs movement)."

Regardless, even without including the reservation chaos, it seems the BJP might find it difficult to retain its only Southern bastion.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  BJP   Congress   KARNATAKA 

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