Politics

Karnataka By-Polls: Congress, JD(S) Win Four of Five Seats

The by-polls were being seen as a popularity test for the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition.

New Delhi: Candidates of the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition on Tuesday won both the assembly constituencies and two of the three Lok Sabha seats in the bitterly fought Karnataka by-polls held on Saturday.

The by-elections came as a major setback for the main opposition BJP ahead of the 2019 elections, with the party losing the Ballari Lok Sabha seat, considered a stronghold of the controversial mining barons, the Reddy brothers.

Congress’s V.S. Ugruppa and JD(S)’s L.R. Shivaramegowda won the Ballari and Mandya Lok Sabha seats with a margin of 2,43,161 and 3,24,943 votes, respectively. Ugrappa defeated BJP’s J. Shantha, the sister of B. Sriramulu, a key aid of the Reddys and former MP from there.

 

BJP’s B.Y. Raghavendra, son of party chief B.S. Yeddyurappa, won the Shivamogga assembly seat with a margin of 5,21,48 votes.

Chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha Kumaraswamy bagged the Ramanagara assembly seat by a spectacular margin of 1,09,137 against her nearest rival BJP’s L. Chandrashekar, who had pulled out of the contest, but still officially remains the party candidate.

Chandrashekhar, who had joined the BJP ahead of the polls returned to Congress weeks later, leaving the saffron party red-faced and the field open for a walkover for Anitha Kumaraswamy.

The Ramanagara seat fell vacant after Kumaraswamy preferred to retain Chennapatna, the other constituency from where he had won.

In Jamkhandi, Congress candidate Anand Nyamgouda defeated BJP’s Srikant Kulkarni by a margin of 39,480 votes, riding a sympathy wave following his father and sitting MLA Siddu Nyamagouda’s death in a road accident.

With Tuesday’s victory, the Congress-JD(S) alliance’s tally will go up to 120 seats in the 224-member assembly where the BJP has 104 MLAs.

In Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, JD(S) candidate L. Shivarame Gowda has established a lead of a staggering 3.24 lakh votes over BJP candidate Siddaramaiah, a political green horn and a former civil servant.

Mandya is a stronghold of the Vokkaliga community to which JD(S) supremo and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda belongs.

Elated over the performance of the ruling alliance candidates, jubilant Congress workers distributed sweets and broke coconuts at various places. The party thanked the voters of Karnataka.

Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed the results reflected the disenchantment of people with the BJP.

“Look at the margins…it’s clear that people are fed up with the BJP. This anti-people, anti-farmer, anti-women government at the Centre must go. All forces need to come together to take on the BJP. BJP will be wiped out of Karnataka in 2019 (Lok Sabha polls). If it is wiped out in Karnataka, it will be wiped out in the entire south India,” he said.

Karnataka is the only south Indian state where the BJP has been in power.

The by-elections for three Lok Sabha seats were necessitated after Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu of the BJP and C.S. Puttaraju of the JD(S) vacated Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya following their election to the assembly in May.

By-polls to the Jamkhandi seat was necessitated following the death of sitting Congress MLA Siddu Nyamagouda, while Ramanagara fellvacant after Kumaraswamy gave it up.

(With PTI inputs)