Steamrolling the ruling Congress-JDS alliance, the BJP on Thursday scored a resounding win in Karnataka, bagging 25 out of the total 28 Lok Sabha seats in an outcome that left the one-year-old Kumaraswamy government in a tizzy over its stability.
With the BJP dealing a hammer blow, Congress and JD(S) managed to win only one seat each, indicating that neither arithmetic nor chemistry worked for the two, which apparently failed to reconcile with each other at the ground level. This is said to be the worst ever performance by Congress in Karnataka and a record of sorts by BJP, for which Karnataka emerged as the bright spot in the South with other neighbouring states bucking the “Modi magic”.
Reflecting the coalition’s sorry state, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge in Gulbarga and former Prime Minister and JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda in Tumkur were defeated by their BJP rivals, making the rout complete.
Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh, supported by BJP, won the Mandya seat by 1,25,876 votes in a fiercely fought battle against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil. While 87-year old Gowda was defeated by 13,339 votes in Tumkur against BJP’s G S Basavaraj, Kharge suffered the first defeat in his political career at the hands of former party colleague Umesh Jadhav, who resigned as MLA and joined BJP ahead of the elections, by 95,452 votes.
As the Lok Sabha results were a double whammy for the Gowda clan, his another grandson Prajwal Revanna, son of minister H D Revanna was the only face saver, as he defeated A Manju of the BJP by 1,41,324 votes in Hassan. Gowda had shifted to Tumkur from his traditional bastion Hassan to make way for his grandson.
Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily faced defeat against BJP candidate B N Bache Gowda in Chikkaballapur by 1,82,110 votes, failing to perform a hat trick. So did his party colleague and seven-time MP from Kolar K H Muniyappa against BJP candidate Muniswamy by 2,10,021 votes.
Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North) defeated his Congress rival and Karnataka Minister Krishna Byre Gowda by a huge margin of 1,47,518. His colleagues Ramesh Jigajinagi (Bijapur) and Anant Kumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada) won their seats by a margin of 2,58,038 and 4,79,649 votes. D K Suresh, brother of influential Karnataka Minister D K Shivakumar was the only Congress candidate to win the Lok Sabha polls. He defeated BJP’s Ashwathnarayan Gowda by a margin of 2,06,870 in Bangalore rural.
Among victorious high profile candidates were state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra (Shimoga), who defeated another former chief minister S Bangarappa’s son Madhu Bangarappa of JD(S) by a huge margin of 2,33,360 votes. Another prominent winner was Tejavi Surya (Bangalore South), who was given a ticket at the last minute denying it to Tejaswini, widow of former Minister and a six-time MP from the seat Ananth Kumar. Surya defeated senior Congress leader B K Hariprasad by 3,31,192 votes. Bangalore South, a politically conscious constituency, has been consistently voting against the Congress for the last four decades, barring once.
Under the seat sharing arrangement, Congress had contested in 21 constituencies and the JDS in seven. While BJP has secured a vote share of 51.4 per cent, Congress and JD(S) got about 31.9 per cent and 9.7 per cent respectively, poll data showed. Most of the candidates elected from the BJP were MPs in the previous Lok Sabha and were seeking re-election.
The interesting part of this election is that BJP made inroads into the South Karnataka belt, also known as the old Mysuru region, very distinctively this time. Of the 28 constituencies that went to the polls, BJP had won in 17, Congress in 9 and JD(S) in two seats during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, during the by-poll in November last year, BJP had lost the Bellary seat to Congress.
While BJP had gained a vote share of 43.37 per cent in the 2014 polls, Congress and JD(S) had secured 41.15 per cent and 11.07 per cent respectively. In 2014, while BJP had swept the coastal region, did well in the Mumbai Karnataka, central districts and Bangalore and also to an extent in Hyderabad Karnataka, most of the Congress victories came from its stronghold of southern Karnataka or old Mysuru region.