As Ravi Shastri might say, it’s a two-paced wicket

At the time of the assembly elections in Karnataka last year, churumuri.com conducted what used to be the norm in Indian journalism but has become a rarity: an old-fashioned, gumshoe, grassroots election survey.

Unlike opinion pollsters who give a general figure, correspondents S.S. Karnadsha and R. Kannan presented a unique seat-by-seat prediction for each of the 224 constituencies in the State, based on personal visits, Election Commission data, and the 2004 results.

They took the delimitation of constituencies into account, assessed the winnability of candidates by absorbing local factors, and spoke to strategists and other players on the ground. They presented their findings a day before each of the three rounds of  polling here, here, and here.

churumuri‘s assessment was Congress 92, BJP 84, JDS 41.

The actual score was Congress 80, BJP 110 and JDS 28.

In other words, we underestimated the BJP by almost a third (26 seats), and overestimated the Congress and JDS by 12 and 13 seats respectively, but at least we put a face to the figures.

Now that polling in Karnataka for the 28 Lok Sabha seats is over, S.S. Karnadsha has put his post-poll cap on. These are his predictions. Obviously, his assessment that the ruling BJP will secure a maximum of 17 seats contradicts Mathihalli Madan Mohan‘s who predicted 18 (or more) for the BJP, but that’s the beauty of the democratic exercise: either possibility is in the realm.

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S.S. KARNADSHA writes: Picking up lessons from the narrow loss of the May 2008 assembly polls, the Congress and the JDS have played an intelligent electoral game this time around to checkmate the BJP in the State.

The two parties have not entered into an open electoral alliance, but have tacitly supported each other in a number of constituencies after assessing their mutual strengths.

For instance, in Bangalore South it is reliably learnt that the JDS worked to transfer votes in favour of the Congress in the last two days. Similarly, in Davangere, Bellary, Dharwad, Shimoga, Bidar, Chikkodi, Chikaballapur and Bangalore North, the JD(S) has helped the Congress.

This is in return for support for JDS candidates in constituencies like Bangalore Rural, Koppal, Tumkur, Chitradurga and the Bidar assembly seat. This tacit understanding between the two parties has made the reading of the poll pitch extremely difficult in the State.

The only seat where the Congress and JDS faced off against each other directly is Mandya where JDS’s N. Cheluvarayaswamy took on the Congress’s Ambarish. How much of this covert strategy will check the bull run of the BJP will be known in a week’s time.

One thing is certain: the margin of victory in every single seat in the State will be small compared to last time.

Congress’s vote share may still be the highest like last time (36.82 per cent), but will it be able convert that into seats is the big question. As our variable numbers and the range of seats indicate, the battle is really close and not one-sided as the BJP is making it out to be.

In several constituencies there is an undercurrent again the BJP.

You shouldn’t therfore be surprised if the Congress and the BJP level their tally at 12 each or of if the Congress even pips the saffron party by a seat or two. There may be a slightly different spread of numbers for the two national parties if the JDS picks up nearly six seats.

A source in the Gowda family is not willing to concede anything less than 7 seats for the party. Let us warn you they are not day-dreaming.

So now, with our numbers and analysis below, where only broad contours have been suggested. We invite you to play your own poll game based on your intuition and information. To help you play your game a little more accurately we have listed out constituencies that are a sure shot for each party and the ones that may swing in their favour.

There is also a clear picture below of the straight fights. Good luck then, conjure up your own number and get back to us before May 16.

No prizes for guessing!

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Total number of seats: 28

Seats where decision is certain: 16

Seats that may swing either way: 12

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BJP (2004 tally: 18)

Least number BJP can win: 6

Most number BJP can win: 17

Congress (2004 tally: 8)

Least number Congress can win: 7

Most number Congress can win: 15

JDS (2004 tally: 2)

Least number JDS can win: 3

Most number JDS can win: 8

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Seats BJP is sure to win: Belgaum, Haveri, Bellary, Bangalore North, Chikmagalur and Kolar.

Seats that could swing in the favour of BJP: Bangalore South, Mangalore, Uttara Kannada, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Bangalore Central, Shimoga, Chamarajanagar, Chitradurga, Mysore, and Koppal.

Seats Congress is sure to win: Bidar, Gulbarga, Raichur, Chikkodi, Bijapur, Davangere and Chikballapur.

Seats that could swing in the favour of Congress: Uttara Kannada, Bagalkot, Bangalore South, Mangalore, Dharwad, Shimoga, Chamarajanagar and Mandya.

Seats JDS is sure to win: Hassan, Bangalore Rural and Tumkur.

Seats that may swing in the favour of JDS:  Mysore, Bangalore Central, Mandya, Chitradurga and Koppal.

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Seats where the fight is between BJP and Congress: Bangalore South, Mangalore, Dharwad, Chamarajanagar, Shimoga, Bagalkot and Uttara Kannada.

Seats where the fight is between BJP and JDS: Bangalore Central, Koppal, Chitradurga and Mysore.

Seats where the fight is between JDS and Congress: Mandya.

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Also read: Why BJP will win 18 (or more) seats in Karnataka

Results of Karnataka in 2004 general elections