Bengaluru: The controversy surrounding the Congress party’s manifesto promise to ‘ban the Bajrang Dal’ failed to provide the anticipated advantage to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Instead, the controversy appears to have consolidated the Muslim voters of the erstwhile Old Mysuru region towards the Congress, resulting in significant gains for the party in South Karnataka.
According to the election results, the Congress is leading in approximately 30 out of the 49 seats in the South Karnataka region. The Janata Dal (Secular), previously a dominant force in this area, has experienced a decline, securing only around 14 seats in its traditional stronghold. The BJP, too, has witnessed a substantial reduction in its seat share, managing to secure only five seats. Comparatively, in the 2018 elections, the JD(S) had won 24 seats, the Congress 16, and the BJP nine in this region.
Traditionally, Vokkaligas, a significant voting bloc, have favored the JD(S), while Muslim votes have been divided between the JD(S) and the Congress in the Old Mysuru region. However, this time, the Muslim voters seem to have overwhelmingly supported the Congress, gaining the grand old party 14 more seats in the region.
Multiple factors seem to have contributed to the Congress’s success. One of the prominent promises made by the party was to restore the 4% Muslim reservation if elected to power, which resonated strongly with the community. However, the key factor that played a pivotal role in attracting Muslim voters in the old Mysuru region to the Congress was the party’s manifesto pledge to ban the ‘Bajrang Dal.’
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Despite initial concerns that the proposal might alienate Hindu voters from the Congress, some party leaders believe that the controversy surrounding the ‘Bajrang Dal’ ban became a rallying point for the Congress, even as the BJP attempted to portray it as “appeasement politics.” The election results have provided a clear indication that the Congress’s gamble has paid off.