South First tracker poll: 130, 150, 123 is Congress, BJP & JD(S)’s aim in Karnataka Assembly polls

The Congress says it will win 130 seats, the BJP 140 seats, and the JD(S) 123. South First predicts the Congress as the single-largest party.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jan 08, 2023 | 5:11 PM Updated Jan 08, 2023 | 5:12 PM

BJP banks on internal survey for the 2023 Karnataka assembly polls.

With the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls fast approaching, national and regional political parties are busy in intense poll engineering in order to gain a clear majority and avoid a hung verdict.

It is under these circumstances that the South First-People’s Pulse first tracker poll suggested for the period between 23 and 30 December 2022 that the Congress would emerge as the single-largest party.

The poll, carried out by People’s Pulse and CICERO for South First in Karnataka, predicted that the Congress could win as many as 101 (+/- 9) seats in the 224-member Assembly in the April-May elections.

The state opinion poll has predicted 91 (+/-7) seats for the incumbent BJP and 29 (+/-5) seats for the Janata Dal (Secular) of JD(S), where the regional party is likely to emerge as kingmaker yet again.

The poll results would mean Karnataka would be in a political situation similar to that after the 2018 Assembly polls.

Congress confident of forming government

Irrespective of the poll survey results, the leaders of the Grand Old Party believe that it would get a clear mandate in the 2023 Assembly polls.

Responding to the survey, KPCC Campaign Committee chairman and incumbent MLA M B Patil told South First: “Many poll surveys have given a verdict in favour of the Congress in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls. We are confident of winning in over 130 Assembly seats.”

He added: “The Congress will come to power independently. People have seen enough of the poor governance of the Basvaraj Bommai-led government. The people will teach a lesson to the BJP in the Assembly polls.”

He also admitted that the party had done an internal survey, but did not disclose the survey results.

“It is too early to comment on the poll opinion. I have gone through the South First poll survey report. The Assembly polls are three months away. The mandate might differ. The party is confident of winning enough seats to form the government,” KPCC communications chairman and MLA Priyank Kharge told South First.

Admitting that the Congress had carried out a sample survey on the polls, KPCC president DK Shivakumar told reporters: “A sample survey has predicted that the Congress will return to power in Karnataka. The recent results in the Legislative Council polls have set a trend in favour of the Congress.”

He was pointing to the victory of Madhu Madegowda from the South Graduates’ segment and Prakash Hukkeri from the North West Teachers’ constituency. The Legislative Council polls for the graduates’ and teacher’s segments were held in June last year.

“This indicates that people are ready to teach a befitting lesson to BJP in the coming polls. The Congress will do wonders in this year’s Assembly polls,” said Shivakumar.

The Congress was reduced to 80 seats after the 2018 Assembly polls, which it had won with an absolute majority in 122 out of 224 assembly seats in 2013. However, it made an alliance with JD(S), which had won 40 seats, and formed the coalition government.

It was short-lived as 17 MLAs from Congress and the JD(S) defected to the BJP, helping the saffron party form the government. This year, party leaders believe the fortunes are in favour of the Congress.

Also read: AHINDA consolidation gives Congress the edge in Karnataka

BJP banks on internal survey

Though many poll surveys, including the South First-People’s Pulse survey, have predicted that the BJP would fail to come back to power in 2023, the party leaders are banking heavily on its internal poll survey, which they claim gives them a clear mandate.

On the recent poll survey reports, BJP national general secretary and Chikkamagaluru MLA CT Ravi told South First: “In many recently-concluded state Assembly polls, the opinion polls were against the BJP. However, the people proved them wrong by giving a clear majority to the BJP in Gujarat and other states.”

He added: “The party’s survey predicts that we will win around 140-150 Assembly seats and come back to power independently. The party has grown to such an extent that it will prove the survey reports that are against the BJP as wrong.”

However, BJP vice-president Nirmal Kumar Surana refrained from commenting on the South First-People’s Pulse survey. “The party has done its own survey, and expects to get a clear majority. We will go by our survey,” he said when asked to respond to the South First survey.

The party leaders are firm on forming the government independently for the first time in the history of Karnataka politics.

The BJP has never gained a clear majority in Karnataka, where it fell short by three seats in the 2008 Assembly polls.

Not kingmakers but king: JD(S)

Many poll surveys on the Karnataka Assembly elections have come out in the last month, but none of them has predicted a clear majority for the once-mighty JD(S).

The regional party, headed by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, is once again likely to be the kingmaker, as per the survey carried out by People’s Pulse and CICERO for South First.

The JD(S) never came to power independently in the state, despite being actually in power thrice in the last two decades.

In the first instance, it joined hands with the Congress in 2004, with the late Dharam Singh as the chief minister.

Then, after ending ties with the Congress, the JD(S) joined hands with the BJP in 2006 and HD Kumaraswamy was at the helm.

In the third instance, the JD(S), after the hung verdict in 2018, accepted the Congress’ invitation to form a coalition government under Kumaraswamy.

Responding to the South First’s survey, JD(S) spokesperson NR Ravichandregowda said: “We are not ‘kingmakers’ but a ‘king’ in the 2023 Assembly polls. The party under the headship of HD Kumaraswamy is confident of gaining a clear majority, with victory expected in 123 seats.”

He added: “The BJP is full of scams and corruption. It also failed to give good and proper governance. Meanwhile, the Congress is yet to resolve its inner differences. The JD(S) has an edge over other parties this year. The party will do well in the Assembly polls and surprise the poll experts.”