It is often said that Karnataka is not a single state election, but five different elections. Five key regions of the state have distinct voting patterns and preferences — leaning towards particular caste and party combinations.
Here we look at the voting histories — from the 2008 Assembly elections onwards — of these five regions: Kittur Karnataka, Kalyana Karnataka, Coastal Karnataka, Central Karnataka, and the Old Mysuru region.
Kittur Karnataka has a total of 50 Assembly segments. Belagavi, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag and Vijayapura are the six districts that fall under Kittur Karnataka.
Veerashaivas and Lingayats are dominant in the region.
In the last three Assembly elections, the BJP gained upper hand twice in the region. In the 2008 Assembly polls, BJP won a record 36 seats, the Congress settled for 12 seats and the JD(S) won in two seats.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress dominated the region as the BJP was a divided house. Yediyurappa’s KJP and B Sriramulu’s BSRCP also contested the elections.
The Congress won in 31 seats, the BJP in 13 seats, the KJP and independents won two seats each and the JD(S) and BSRCP one each.
Congress’ Jagadish Shettar, Satish Jarkiholi, Prakash Hukkeri, HK Patil, MB Patil, Laxmi Hebbalkar, Laxman Savadi and GT Patil are the influential leaders here. Basavaraj Bommai, Aravind Bellad, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, CC Patil and Ramesh Jarkiholi are the influential regional leaders of the BJP.
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In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Veerashaivas and Lingayats were angry at the Congress as then chief minister Siddaramaiah had allegedly tried to split the community. Pontiffs of prominent mathas openly announced their support for the BJP in the elections.
Hence, BJP dominated Kittur Karnataka in the 2018 Assembly polls by winning 30 seats. The Congress was reduced to 17 seats, the JD(S) managed to win in only two seats, and an independent in one seat.
Political Commentator Ashok Chandaragi pointed out: “It is because of the Veerashaiva and Lingayats that BJP dominated in the region. In the 2018 polls, Siddaramaiah’s decision to give separate religion status to Lingayats did not go well with the community.”
“The prominent mathas and their pontiffs announced support to the BJP. This helped BJP to dominate in the region. However, the wave is not in favour of the BJP in Kittur Karnataka in this election as the community is unhappy with the BJP high command for ousting Yediyurappa without giving a proper reason,” Chandaragi told South First.
The polling has been increasing by a small percentage in every Assembly election in Kittur Karnataka region. In 2013, the total voter turnout was 72.74 percent and it increased to 74.78 percent in 2018 and recorded 75.84 percent in 2023.
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Kalyan Karnataka comprises seven districts: Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Ballari and Vijayanagar. Lingayats, SCs and STs and Muslims are the dominant in this region. This is one of the most backward regions in Karnataka.
The Kalyana Karnataka region is a stronghold of the Congress. In the last three elections, the grand old party has dominated twice by winning 23 of the 40 seats in both the 2013 and 2018 elections. In the 2008 Assembly elections, it had won 15 seats.
In the 2008 Assembly polls, BJP won 18 out of the 40 Assembly seats. In the next elections (2013), the party performed poorly as it was reduced to only five seats. The KJP and BSRCP had won three and two seats, respectively.
However, it had managed to bounce back by winning 15 seats in the 2018 Assembly polls.
The JD(S) has remained consistent for the last three elections as it has not won more than five seats. It won five seats in 2013 and 2008, and four seats in 2018.
The polling percentage saw an increasing in every assembly election. Kalyan Karnataka recorded a total voter turnout of 69.20 percent in 2013 and it increased by 0.90 percent in 2018, with a total voter turnout of 70.19 percent.
In the 2023 Assembly elections, the polling percent has been increased by 2.51 percent with a total voter turnout of 72.70 percent.
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Coastal Karnataka — which comprises the districts of Uttar Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi — has been a bastion of the BJP. In the last three Assembly polls, the BJP has dominated twice by registering victories in 10 out of the 19 seats in 2008 and winning 16 seats in 2018.
The BJP managed to win in only three seats in 2013 as the party was a divided house. Even three independent candidates had won in the same Assembly elections.
The Congress dominated by winning 13 out of the 19 seats in 2013. It failed to make an impact in the 2008 and 2018 Assembly polls as it had only seven and three seats, respectively.
The JD(S) managed to win only two seats in 2008. Thereafter, the party has not won a single seat in the region.
Coastal Karnataka has recorded a total voter turnout of 75.19 percent in 2013. It was increased by 3.47 percent in 2018 by recording a turnout of 78.66 percent. In the 2023 Assembly polls, the voter turnout saw a drop by 1.07 percent with a total turnout of 77.59 percent.
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With Veerashaivas and Lingayats dominant in Central Karnataka — which comprises the districts of Chitradurga, Davanagere, Shivamogga and Chikkmagaluru — the BJP has done well in the region twice in the last three Assembly polls.
In the 2008 Assembly polls, the BJP won 17 out of the 26 seats here, Congress won six seats, the JD(S) settled for one seat, and independent candidates won in two seats.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress dominated the region by winning 15 of 26 seats, the BJP was reduced to three seats, the JD(S) won six seats, and the BSRCP and KJP won one seat each.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, the BJP once again dominated the region with winning a record 21 seats, the Congress was reduced to five seats, and the JD(S) did not win in a single seat despite the Vokkaligas being another influential community in the region.
The polling has witnessed an increasing trend in every Assembly election.
Central Karnataka recorded a total voter turnout of 76.20 percent in 2013. It increased by 2.38 percentage points in 2018 with a total voter turnout of 78.58 percent. It saw an increase of mere 0.56 percentage points in the 2023 Assembly polls, recording a highest total voter turnout of 79.14 percent.
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The Old Mysuru region — comprising the districts of Tumakuru, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Mysuru, Mandya, Ramnagar, Kodagu and Hassan — is dominated by Vokkaligas, and has witnessed almost direct fights between the Congress and the JD(S) in the last three Assembly elections.
In the 2008 assembly polls, the Congress won a record 28 out of the 57 Assembly seats in the region, the JD(S) won 17 seats, the BJP won nine seats, and three seats were won by independents.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, Congress saw its number reduced by three seats as the party won 25 seats, the JD(S) increased its strength by winning in 23 seats, the BJP was reduced to four seats, and independents won in five seats.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, the JD(S) dominated the region by winning in 27 seats, Congress won 17, the BJP increased its seat tally to 11 seats, which was the best performance of the saffron party in the last three Assembly polls, and independents won in two seats.
The Old Mysuru region has recorded the highest voter turnout in the state in the last three Assembly polls.
In 2013, the region recorded a 79.06 percent turnout. This increased by 2.32 percentage points in 2018 to 81.38 percent. In 2023, the region recorded total polling of 81.65 percent, a marginal increase.