By Fakir Balaji (08:06) Bengaluru, Dec 10 (IANS) The landslide victory of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka’s 15 Assembly by-elections proved that the electorate voted for stability and rejected the opportunistic politics of the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in the southern state, a party official has said.
“The message from the by-elections is for a stable government by our party and rejection of the Congress and the JD-S, which ruined the state by running a shaky coalition government for 14 months without the people’s mandate in the May 2018 Assembly elections,” BJP spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS on Monday.
Of the 15 Assembly seats, the BJP won 12 and the Congress two, while the JD-S scored nil after all the votes were counted during the day.
An Independent (Satish Kumar Bachegowda), backed by the JD-S, however, won the prestigious Hosakote seat in Bengaluru Rural district, defeating the BJP’s M.T.B Nagaraj, who defected from the Congress after he was disqualified and expelled in July for defying its whip.
Ironically, Nagaraj was the richest candidate in the by-elections, having declared assets worth a whopping Rs 1,230 crore in his poll affidavit last month.
Interestingly, Hosakote recorded the highest voting (91 per cent) in the bypolls.
“As the party was obliged to give the ticket to Nagaraj for resigning from the seat and defecting to the BJP, we were forced to expel Bachegowda from the party as he refused to withdraw from the contest and defied the party’s diktat. More than the BJP, it is the Congress that lost the seat to an Independent, who was with us till recently,” pointed out Madhusudan.
Bachegowda’s father B.N. Bache Gowda is the BJP’s Lok Sabha member from the neighbouring Chikkaballapur constituency, about 60 km east of Bengaluru.
The ruling party’s gamble to field 11 Congress and three JD-S defectors on its Lotus symbol paid off, as it wrested 12 of them, including 10 from the former and two from the latter.
The Congress, however, managed to retain the high-profile Shivajinagar in Bengaluru Central, defeating the BJP’s former corporator M. Saravana after its seven-time winner and defector Roshan Baig did not contest as the ruling party declined to admit him due to his alleged involvement in the multi-crore IMA Ponzi scam.
The Congress also wrested the Hunasur seat in Mysuru district from the JD-S, but failed to retain K.R. Pura and Yeshvanthapura in Bengaluru.
“More than the Congress, it is the regional party (JD-S) which suffered the worst defeat in the bypolls, as it lost all the three seats, including the prestigious Mahalakshmi Layout in Bengaluru northwest and Krishnarajapete in Mandya district, about 160 km southwest of Bengaluru, to the BJP with its defectors, winning by huge vote margins,” a political analyst told IANS here.
Terming the BJP’s near sweep of the by-polls as a vindication of its stand against the opportunistic JD-S and the Congress, Madhusudan said both the opposition parties paid a heavy price by first entering into a post-poll alliance to keep the saffron party out of power at any cost in May 2018 after a split verdict threw up a hung Assembly due to a fractured mandate.
Although the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats in the 225-member House in the May 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress with 80 seats crowned the JD-S despite the regional party winning only 37 seats by offering unconditional support to its then working president H.D. Kumaraswamy to lead the coalition government as the Chief Minister.
Showing pettiness and disrespect to the people’s mandate in the May 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress and JD-S formed the coalition government on May 23 after B.S. Yediyurappa resigned on May 19, three days of forming the second BJP government in the state, as he fell 8 seats short to prove simple majority in the 225-member House, with 113 as the halfway mark.
“Our historic victory in the by-elections is a poetic justice by the people who gave our party 105 seats in the May 2018 Assembly elections and rejected the Congress from returning to power after a lacklustre 5-year rule from 2013-18. Even the JD-S won only 37, three less than 40 it had bagged in the May 2013 Assembly polls, which was a rejection of a family party, with former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda as its supremo and Kumaraswamy as his prodigal son,” recalled Madhusudan.
This is the second time in a year the electorate rejected the Congress and the JD-S whose opportunistic pre-poll alliance to jointly contest in the April-May general elections boomeranged, as both could win only one Lok Sabha seat each despite contesting in all the 28 parliamentary constituencies on seat-sharing basis.
“As the Congress and the JD-S refused to accept their shock defeat in the Lok Sabha elections as a referendum against its unstable coalition government, the verdict in the by-elections is against them coming back to power through another opportunistic alliance and plunging the state into instability or turmoil for the remaining 3 years of the 5-year tenure of the present Assembly till May 2023,” added the analyst.
The BJP’s vote share – 51 per cent in the by-elections also indicated the people’s acceptance of the party’s right to rule the state till May 2023 under its Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.
The Congress polled 32 per cent while the JD-S a mere 12 per cent.
The resounding victory of the dozen defectors, including 10 from the Congress and two from the JD-S on the BJP lotus symbol also proved their popularity among their electorate and stronghold in their respective constituencies, especially in the state’s northwest region.