The final count from Karnataka showed the Congress easily forming a majority on its own, winning 135 of the 224 seats in the state’s assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party won 66 seats and the Janata Dal (Secular) won 19.
BJP’s incumbent chief minister B.S. Bommai has conceded.
While the results were somewhat clear by midday on Saturday, there was one seat that witnessed high drama at night – Jayanagar. It was finally won by the BJP by 16 votes.
The campaign trail
The run-up to the 2023 Karnataka assembly polls was marked by a high-pitched campaign by both the BJP and the Congress. None other than the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his long time associate and Union home minister Amit Shah raised Hindutva battle cries.
While Modi equated Bajrang Dal with Lord Hanuman, invoked the propaganda film The Kerala Story in his rally and went on to call the Congress secessionist, his deputies Amit Shah, J.P. Nadda, and Rajnath Singh promised to scrap the OBC quota for backward Muslims in all states if the saffron party gets its way.
This, when the saffron leadership in the state had kept an arm’s distance from Hindutva in its initial campaigns and focused on its achievements over the last five years. Issues like hijab, halal, Muslim quota, azaan on loudspeaker, Tipu Sultan and so on which were fanned by the B. S. Bommai government earlier were quietly buried in the initial rounds of campaign until the last-minute aggressive Hindutva push by the BJP’s national leadership.
The BJP’s response came as its primary rival the Congress appeared to be setting the political agenda along issues of price rise, unemployment and allegations of corruption against Bommai government. The grand old party ran a spirited campaign and projected an united leadership despite internal rivalries that had kept the scribes working overtime through the last few years. In the run-up to the polls, however, the Congress could not only bury the factional rivalries but also came up with catchy campaigns like “PayCM” or “40% Sarkara” to allude Bommai government’s corruption scandals.
The joker in the pack Janata Dal (Secular) also fought hard to retain its stongholds in southern Karnataka. Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy led two yatras – one demanding irrigation projects and water resources in the state and more recently the Panchatantra Rathyatra which promised free education, healthcare, care schemes for women and girl child and other allowances to the marginalised.
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