Gujarat on minds, Congress and BJP eye city voters

  • The BJP and the Congress are striving to woo urban voters in election-bound Karnataka, after the recent Gujarat assembly polls showed that the saffron party managed to hold on to its clear edge in cities.
  • The need for the Congress to change this trend was stressed by even party president Rahul Gandhi during a New Year call to Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. With Karnataka being one of the few states where Congress still has a stronghold, it has become crucial for the party to ensure it gets enough of the urban vote to form its government again.
  • “We are quite confident of getting the rural vote in most of the state, particularly due to chief minister Siddaramaiah’s image. But getting more of the urban vote is the challenge as the PM’s image is better than the CM’s among that electorate,” a senior Congress leader admitted to ET.
  • Siddaramaiah, aware of the problem, recently started reaching out through social media platforms to the urban, educated electorate. He also cleared several multi-crore infrastructure projects for Bengaluru, while wooing the urban poor through the highly subsidised Indira Canteens that serves breakfast for INR5 and lunch for INR10.
  • Regional party JD(S) does not have a substantial presence in the urban pockets, though it does have some stakes in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya and Hassan. The battle for the urban vote is mainly between the two national parties.
  • The number of urban voters in Karnataka is over a third of the 49 million-electorate, with an estimated 100 of the 224 assembly constituencies dubbed ‘urban’. The Congress managed to do quite well in these constituencies in the 2013 elections, which brought it to power, but the BJP still did better.

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