After sitting in Opposition for seven years, the Congress is set to form the next government in Karnataka. Of the 223 seats that went to polls on May 5, the party has won 121, eight more than the magic figure of 113 in the 224-seat Assembly. Its tally rose significantly from 80 seats in the 2008 election.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), following a strong anti-incumbency wave, failed to save its only bastion in South India which it had won in the 2008 election. The five-year BJP rule in the state had been marked with rampant corruption, besides mining and land denotification scams. The party’s 2008 tally of 110 seats got shrunk to 40 this time, forcing it to share the second slot with the Janata Dal (Secular).
Hailing the outcome of the state election, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi: “The Congress victory is a clear result against the ideology of the BJP.”
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) won six seats, while the BSR Congress, another breakaway group from BJP, bagged four. Others managed to win 12.
Election at one constituency, Periyapatna in Mysore district, was postponed following the death of the BJP candidate.
Yeddyurappa’s exit seemed to have hurt BJP. While the former CM won from Shikaripura by 15,000 votes, BJP’s seat count this time was barely a third of those won in the 2008 election.
Former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda of BJP said: “We failed to rise to the occasion. We could not reach out to the voter with the development work we did in the state.”
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy was more candid in his admission: “We have lost badly... There are many reasons for it. We will have to introspect.”
JD(S), which increased its tally to 40 seats from 28 in 2008, was another big gainer after the Congress.
The prominent winners from the Congress included K Siddaramaiah, R V Deshpande, H K Patil and Roshan Baig, while BJP’s Jagadish Shettar, R Ashok and Suresh Kumar were among key candidates who won in their respective constituencies. For JD(S), besides Kumaraswamy, Chaluvarayaswamy and H D Revanna were among major winners.
Mining lords Anil Lad and Santhosh Lad won their seats, while among prominent losers were 12 ministers of the Jagadish Shettar Cabinet, including Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa, who lost from Shimoga.
Among setbacks for the Congress was the loss for its state president G Parameshwara, who was widely being seen as a strong contender for the chief minister’s post. He lost in Koratagere in Tumkur district to JD(S) opponent, P R Sudhakara Lal. Also, Congress candidate and former Union civil aviation minister C M Ibrahim was pushed to the third position in Bhadrawati.