Assembly elections

Exit polls suggest Karnataka will get a BJP-JD(S) government, despite Congress buzz

Siddaramaiah may have taken the fight to the BJP, but the predictions do not favour him.

If Karnataka is, as many TV channels and even politicians have put it, the semi-final to the General Elections that are due next year, it might have an unusual message for the Bharatiya Janata Party: That it will not be able to win 2019 alone. Most exit polls announced after the end of voting in the assembly elections on Saturday gave the BJP more seats than the Congress. But only one said the saffron party is likely to cross the halfway mark by itself. The rest predicted a hung assembly, with the Janata Dal (Secular) playing kingmaker, and most indications suggesting it will go with the BJP.

Only two out of the eight major exit polls put out by various agencies on Saturday suggested that the Congress would get more seats than the BJP. And not one of them had the Congress building on its tally from 2013, when the party won 122 seats in the 224-strong assembly. Only one of the two that put Congress ahead has it within striking distance – the average prediction of the India Today-Axis poll said the party would pick up 112, just short of the 113 needed.

Six of the eight polls put the BJP comfortably ahead of the Congress with five of those putting the saffron party in the 104-107 range. That would mean the party would still need to pick up help from other Members of Legislative Assembly for it to form government. Most indications seem to suggest that the Janata Dal (Secular), a Karnataka-based party, will end up playing kingmaker.

A rough average of all of the polls, taken to get a sense of where the various predictions come together, suggests the BJP will get 102 seats, the Congress 84, and the JD(S) 32 seats. That represents a jump of more than 60 seats from the BJP’s 2013 tally, albeit explained somewhat by the presence of splinter parties that year, including one led by former BJP chief minister BS Yeddyurappa who is once again the saffron party’s chief ministerial candidate.

Only one of the eight polls suggest the BJP will be able to take the reins by itself, with Today’s Chanakya predicting 120 seats for the saffron party. All others suggest help will be needed from the JD(S).

Will that help be forthcoming? In the run-up to the elections, both the BJP and the Congress sought to portray the JD(S) as the other’s ‘B-team’. Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, the founder of the JD(S), has also said that he will not tie-up with the BJP, although analysts suggest those words should be taken with a pinch of salt. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to praise Gowda in a rally earlier this month raised eyebrows and seemed to lend credence to the idea that the BJP and the JD(S) have a tacit agreement, especially considering Gowda’s party was always more likely to leach votes from the Congress’ base rather than the saffron party’s.

What might complicate matters are any ambitions from Gowda for a role at the Centre, where his party tends to follow the Opposition line, led by the Congress, on most matters. But based on simple calculations, it seems likely that the JD(S) would want to go with the BJP if it emerged as the single-largest party without a majority, not least because of a supposed animosity between Gowda and the Congress incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah.

The most important disclaimer to all of this is that exit polls have rarely been consistent in Indian political history, particularly when they involve more than two major parties, so no party will be taking anything as a given before final results are declared after counting begins on May 15.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.