As the state goes into polls, experts are predicting a fractured mandate with the state electorate divided both vertically and horizontally on caste and religious lines.

According to India Today's opinion poll, the ruling Congress might not get a full majority, it is projected to win 90 to 101 seats while the BJP is set for 78-86. the biggest surprise is the Janata Dal (S) led by former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, which is projected to win around 34-43 seats.

The Karnataka state legislature can be divided into four regions, and each has a particular voting pattern.

These include Coastal Karnataka, Old Mysore, Hyderabad Karnataka, and Bombay Karnataka.

Bangalore region has a cosmopolitan populace, and the issues are different and so votes differently from the state voting pattern.

The Lingayat factor

The Lingayat communities are a vital factor in the Bombay Karnataka region and the Hyderabad Karnataka. They form the significant part of the electorate and traditionally have been a staunch supporter of the BJP. They have been voting en-block to the BJP. The BJP is the primary force in both these regions with the Bombay Karnataka having 56 seats. The BJP is projected to win 40 seats while the Congress could win 12 seats.

The Hyderabad Karnataka is having 40 seats and both BJP and Congress are equally poised in this region.

The BJP is predicted to win 28 seats while the rest to be shared with Congress and independents. This region has a sizeable Dalit and backward class population, and this could also be a factor while deciding who will win and lose.

Chief Minister, Sidharamiah has taken a calculated risk by declaring the Lingyats as a separate minority, and this could have a bearing on the outcome of the election. The fractured Lingayat vote can be advantageous to the Congress.

Coastal Karnataka

The BJP is very strong in the coastal Karnataka and is composed of three regions-South Kannada, North Kannada and Udupi and all three regions together comprise of 19 seats. The BJP is strong here but 2013, the Congress made spectacular gains.

However, it must be remembered that the BJP at that time was fractured into three different parts and hence the Congress was able to break them. This time around, the BJP is united and hence will give a stiff fight to the Congress. The BJP is expected to get 16 seats while the Congress two seats.

Old Mysore

The Old Mysore area is composed of Bangalore Rural District, Chikkamagalore, Kodagu, Davanagere, Tumkur, and Shimoga. All the three parties, BJP, Congress and JD(S) are strong here. The JD(S) led by former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda will give a tough fight to the opponents. There are 81 seats in this region.

While the Lingayats are dominant in the other regions, the area is the stronghold of Vokkaliga community. JDS is strong among Vokkaligas. Congress too is equally strong. The BJP could make inroads in this region with the induction of SM Krishna a Vokkaliga into BJP. The Congress is expected to get 34 seats while the JDS, 18 seats, and BJP may get 24 seats. The rest may go to independents and others.

In conclusion, 75 percent of Karnataka are rural seats and 25 percent urban seats. The Congress is traditionally strong in the rural region while the BJP is strong in urban areas. It is going to be a direct fight between BJP and the Congress in 180 seats. In Karnataka caste plays the more critical role than religion.

There is an incumbency towards both BJP and Congress. The Congress is hampered by infighting, and the BJP could lose votes due to their neglect of Dalits. The Hindutva agenda is effective only in the coastal regions where the BJP is expected to make significant gains.

The voting pattern of the electorate in Bangalore city is different from the rest of the state local factors are more important than national issues.

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