The ruling BJP in Karnataka on Tuesday suffered a setback in the Legislative Council elections by bagging just 11 of the 25 seats from 20 Local Authorities’ constituencies in the state. In the neck and neck fight, the main opposition Congress also won 11 seats. The JD(S) suffered a minor rout by winning just two seats, while an Independent candidate won from Belgaum defeating the BJP rival.
With these results, the BJP’s strength in the 75-member Council went up from 32 to 37, while the majority mark is 38. The Congress’ tally dipped from 29 to 26, and the JD(S)’ numbers came down from 12 to 11.
For the first time in decades, the ruling party has won less and even less than the total seats won by the Opposition in Karnataka. Usually, the ruling party wins two-thirds seats in these elections and last time, the ruling Congress had won 15 seats, while the main opposition BJP had bagged 6 seats and JD(S) 4 seats.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP was expected to win at least 15 seats in this election. According to BJP’s internal surveys, the opposition was expected to win less than 10 seats.
The BJP managed to secure victories in Chikmagalur, Gulbarga and Vijayapura seats by a narrow margin where the Congress and an Independent candidate had put up a spirited fight.
In the prestigious Mysore-Chamarajanagar two-member seat, the BJP lost to JD(S)’s candidate after the counting of second preference of votes. The party won Vijayapura’s two-member seat by less than 20 votes after the counting of second preference votes. The BJP also won Chikmagalur by a margin of just 6 votes and Gulbarga by less than 100 votes.
BJP says party improved its performance; Cong says people fed up with BJP
Even though the BJP state leadership, including Bommai, is trying to put up a brave face calling it a victory, insiders admit that the party is in a shock over the outcome. Both Bommai and his predecessor BS Yediyurappa have maintained that the BJP has bettered its performance by five seats in this election.
Karnataka State Congress president DK Shivakumar, who had campaigned vigorously for the party candidates, expressed happiness over the performance. Speaking to News18, he said, “We could have won more seats, at least three more. Our own strategy was wrong and unfortunately, we lost them. But, the results proved that the people are fed up with the BJP and are looking at the Congress in the 2023 assembly elections”.
In the Vokkaliga-dominated six Districts of the old Mysore region, considered the stronghold of the Gowda clan, Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah-led Congress swept the polls by winning five seats.
Former chief minister and JD(S) chief HD Kumaraswamy conceded defeat, saying both the BJP and Congress had colluded to ensure the party’s defeat in some seats.
The Congress, however, hit back alleging that the JD(S) has indirectly backed the BJP to ensure Congress’ defeat, but failed miserably.
Meanwhile, there have been serious allegations of BJP, Congress, JD(S) and some independent candidates paying Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per vote. In some cases, it went up to Rs 1 lakh, according to sources.