Polarising campaign shrinks relevance of smaller, regional parties

Smaller parties, independents and even regional/national parties that excel in other states were swept to the side by the polarised fight between Congress, BJP and JD(S) who have shared 219 seats amongst them.

Smaller parties, independents and even regional/national parties that excel in other states were swept to the side by the polarised fight between Congress, BJP and JD(S) who have shared 219 seats amongst them.

The case of independents is starkly visible with only one of the 1,179 independents emerging victorious in the fight compared to nine winners in the 2013 polls. Though they stand in the fourth place when it comes to vote share of 3.9% - lowest compared to numbers since 1999.

Among the smaller parties, the Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha (KDJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have thrown up surprise victory by winning a constituency each. R Shankar of KPJP and N Mahesh of BSP have come to the spotlight in the hung Assembly thrown up by the election.

There has been a gradual decrease in the vote share of smaller and regional parties which once garnered a large number of votes. JD(U), which secured 13.53% of votes in 1999, is yet to better its performance.

However, the fact that smaller parties have secured only two seats, down from 13, shows the electorate was in no mood to pay attention to other players.

The theory applies to Aam Aadmi Party as well which fielded 18 candidates in Bengaluru and 11 others elsewhere in the state. The AAP candidates campaigned hard in Bengaluru, but none of them came close to winning.

Prithvi Reddy, the AAP candidate from Sarvagnanagar (Bengaluru), said the voice of smaller parties and independents got drowned in the noise generated by politics of fear and hatred spread by national parties.

Expensive election

“The BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted a vicious campaign, spreading hatred and fear. The Congress and other major parties focused on religion and caste. Though it was the most expensive election, we had good response from voters at the beginning of campaign. Everything changed in the last three-four days,” he said.

Harish Narasappa, state coordinator of Karnataka Election Watch and member of Association for Democratic Reforms, said most of the independents and candidates from small parties will not stand a chance as they do can’t match the money power of opponents from bigger parties.

“The exceptions happen when leaders emerging from mass movements contest as candidates. In the absence of such movements, hoping for a change is futile,” he said.

This explains the state of Mahila Empowerment Party which seems to have spent a huge amount of money on campaigning, drew a blank in the polls.

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Polarising campaign shrinks relevance of smaller, regional parties

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