Karnataka Legislative Council Elections: Neck And Neck Fight Between Both National Parties But BJP Suffers Setback In Belagavi
The Karnataka legislative council elections were necessitated on 10 December as the term of 25 MLC’s was to end in January.
The BJP and Congress won 11 seats each while the JD(S) won 2 and independent candidates one.
The results of the biennial election to the Karnataka legislative council election were announced on Tuesday (14 December). More than one lakh elected representatives had voted in these polls to 25 seats in 20 districts, five of which will have two winners each.
While the BJP did increase its seat count by four, taking its total score to 11, the Congress has managed to wrestle out some key seats like Belagavi from the BJP and JD(S) and also put up a strong fight in many others. It lost Chikamagaluru to the BJP by just six votes, and was set to contest the results. Until the last round of counting, BJP was seen as winning 12, the number needed to get the upper house majority.
This victory takes the ruling party’s total count in the upper house to 37, stopping just one short of giving it a clear majority which would spare it of the dependency on the JD(S), which until the last round had managed to win just one seat in its bastion Hassan, which saw Suraj Revanna, grandson of former PM H D Devegowda contesting.
In a surprise result of sorts, the JDS claimed its bastion of Mysuru back with 42 votes in the counting of second preference votes. While Congress candidate won with the first preference votes in the bicameral Mysuru Chamarajanagar seats, JDS had a final round unexpected rise with C N Manjegowda seeing JDS through in the final lap.
The grand old man of the BJP in Karnataka and former CM B S Yediyurappa, while congratulating the party on its victory, expressed confidence in winning 140 seats in the coming elections and that he would tour the state soon for the same. He added that the council election victory is symbolic of the support people have given to the Bommai government.
But what is being called a big blow to the BJP is the defeat in the prestigious seat of Belagavi, which saw its candidate pushed to the third position. The first place was won by brother of Belagavi rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar and Congress candidate Chenaraj Hattihali with 3,718 votes.
The BJP candidate Mahantesh Kavatagimath, who was the sitting MLC, who is also the government chief whip of the party in the council was pushed to the third position, with independent candidate Lakhan Jarkiholi leading with around 80 votes in the counting of first preference votes. The Congress had won no seat here in the last polls, with independent candidate Vivekrao Patil winning one and Kavatagimath the other.
Speaking at Belagavi, Siddharamaiah said,”the defeat in Belagavi shows the BJP is a powerless party. It made way for an independent candidate. The loss in Belagavi is a doing of its own leaders - one that was sculpted by Ramesh and Balachandran Jarkiholi“.
Ramesh Jarkiholi is said to have sought a BJP ticket for and, upon denial, had his brother and former Congressman Lakhan Jarkiholi contest as an independent candidate. He was also said to be indirectly campaigning for his brother, saying this was just to defeat the Congress candidate at any cost. But the results show otherwise, as the BJP has lost both seats to two candidates backed by two Jarkiholi brothers.
“Yes there has been a split of votes. In all two seat constituencies, the BJP has won, except this. There was no need to have an independent candidate, as Belagavi was a winning seat,” said Mahantesh Kavatagimath, speaking to media persons. The independent candidate won the second seat after the counting of second preference votes with a margin of 408 votes.
This is being seen as a massive setback for the BJP as it had 13 MLAs and two MPs in the region. While campaigning CM Basavaraj Bommai had dismissed allegations of confusion with the triangular contest and said the party was ‘in very good condition’ in Belagavi and expressed confidence that Kavatagimath would win in the first round itself, as reported.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders sounded jubilant, having captured Belagavi from BJP and Mandya from JD(S). ”The CM was strategising in Belagavi but it has failed. They called Congress a sinking ship. But our speed may be slow but we haven’t halted and will be back in power in the coming elections,” said Satish Jarkiholi in Belagavi.
”The ruling party always has advantages. This is a government that has come by unjust means and hence their majority in the upper house too doesn't matter to us. But the votes show us we have lost by a very narrow margin even when they are in power in the ruling bodies, which is a positive development," said KPCC state president D K Shivakumar, addressing media, even as the results were tickling in.
Drawing comparison with the BJP’s loss in Hanagal, Shivakumar said the state, earlier the people and now elected representatives have called it an outcome of anti-incumbency and called Belagavi a self-goal.
Reports, on the other hand, call this a show of strength and their hold over Belagavi by the Jarkiholi brothers, one of whom had been 'cut to size' following the CD scandal.
Another setback for the BJP has been in Kolar, where former Congressman and now Minister for Health Dr Sudhakar was said to have campaigned hard to ensure a BJP victory in the MLC seat associated with his constituency. But despite many leaders of the Congress jumping fences in the run upto the MLC elections, the Congress candidate ML Anil Kumar has managed to win with 445 votes, as reported. This seat was earlier held by JD(S) candidate C R Manohar.
Interestingly, the losses of the JD(S) have been positive gains for the Congress, with Kolar, Tumkur going into the national party’s kitty and Mysuru saved by a whisker but with Congress still having won the first preference votes.
The elections were held on 10 December, with the two national parties pitching 20 candidates each while the JD(S) contested six. The elections were necessitated as the term of 25 MLC’s was to end in January - 14 Congress, 7 BJP, 4 JDS. Of this, the JD(s) contested six but lost four, the Congress numbers reduced by three to 11 while the ruling party in the state gained five.
This takes the BJP’s numbers in the Council to 37 from an earlier 32, while Congress declined from 29 to 26, and the JD(S) to 10 from 12.
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