Bypolls: Parties bank on turnout

Officials head to a polling booth in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH Photo/Janardhan B K

The ruling BJP is banking on a good voter turnout in the byelections scheduled for Thursday to improve its prospects of winning as many seats as it can in the 15 constituencies. 

The Opposition Congress, too, is figuring out how the voter turnout will affect its victory or defeat across the constituencies. 

Generally, a good voter turnout is deemed a bad omen for the incumbent party. But Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday hoped that the turnout will be as high as 80-85%.

“Immaterial of whether it is sunny or rainy, please come out and vote in large numbers. The government has even declared a holiday for schools, colleges and offices to facilitate voting,” Yediyurappa said, in his appeal to voters. 

According to the BJP leaders, the party is confident of winning 12 seats in the bypolls. According to BJP general secretary N Ravikumar, a high voter turnout will help the saffron party win more seats in the bypolls.  “We are facing some competition in a handful of constituencies down south,” he told DH, adding that the party was confident of winning all poll-bound seats up north.

Sources added that while an increase in voter turnout in constituencies such as Shivajinagar would traditionally benefit the Congress, there were indications of it working in favour of the BJP this time.

According to sources in the Congress, a low turnout in urban areas would indirectly work in the party’s favour as middle class and upper middle class sections are perceived to be pro-Modi. But in Shivajinagar, both the BJP and Congress say a high voter turnout will help them.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao expected voter turnout to be high in rural constituencies. “I’m not sure how many will turn out to vote in the city,” he told DH. “Usually, bypolls have a low voter turnout compared with general elections.”

JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda saw it in a different light. Speaking to DH, he said the bypoll was not about voter turnout.

“It is not about whether 80-85% show up. How many ever do, this election is about the voters sending a message to disqualified MLAs for breaching people’s trust,”
he told DH. 

The bypolls are crucial for the BJP; it needs to win at least 6-7 to secure a majority in the Assembly.

The Congress is desperate for vengeance against the disqualified MLAs, whereas the JD(S) is hoping to stay relevant by winning as many seats as possible.

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