New Delhi Correspondent
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a setback on Tuesday when it failed to renew its hold on a parliamentary seat which has been its long-held bastion in the southern state of Karnataka as ruling Congress and its alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular) won two other parliamentary constituencies and won both the assembly seats that went to by polls last weekend.
Out of the three parliamentary and two assembly seats, the BJP could win only one and the rest four were bagged by the Congress and Janata Dal (S) to make it a 4-1 verdict in favour of the state’s ruling coalition.
The by-elections were seen as an indicator of the popular mood not only about the Congress-Janata Dal(S) coalition in Karnataka but also the Indian parliamentary elections in India next year.
The Congress-Janata Dal (S) alliance in Karnataka was cobbled after the assembly polls that threw up a fractured verdict that saw the two parties outsmarting the BJP, which had emerged as the single largest party in the poll, to form the state government
The BJP and the Congress-Janata Dal(S) combine mounted an all out offensive to breach each other’s bastions before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Of the three Lok Sabha seats that went to the by-polls, BJP had held Shivamogga and Ballari parliamentary seats while Janata Dal (S) the Mandya Lok Sabha seat.
The only solace for the BJP was the victory of its candidate in Shivamogga where Karnataka state party chief B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra beat former chief minister S Bangarappa’s son Madhu Bangarappa of Janata Dal(S).
All eyes were on the Ballari parliamentary seat where the setback for the BJP was its defeat against the Congress. Ballari Lok Sabha seat has voted for the BJP since 2004 and is the stronghold of the mining barons, the Reddy brothers.
The Congress and Janata Dal(S) had gone all out to unseat the BJP in Ballary this time, encouraged by the coalition’s performance in the state assembly elections in April-May this year when it won six of the eight assembly segments in Ballari.
Ballari shot into fame in 1999 when it saw an electoral contest between former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj,, now India’s External Affairs Minister. Sonia had defeated Swaraj at that time before the BJP won the seat in the next election in 2004 and never looked back.
True to expectation, Janata Dal(S) candidate L Shivarame Gowda established an unassailable lead of 99,198 votes against the BJP’s new face Dr Siddaramaiah, a former official, in the party bastion of Mandya.
In Ramanagara assembly seat, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha Kumaraswamy won over BJP’s L Chandrashekar who pulled out of the contest two days before polling but officially remained the BJP candidate. Chandrashekhar had joined the BJP ahead of the polls but returned to the Congress weeks later, leaving the saffron party red-faced.
The Congress also won the Jamkhandi assembly seat defeating the BJP by riding on a sympathy wave following his father and sitting legislator’s death in a road accident
The Ramanagara assembly seat was held by Janata Dal(S) and Jamkhandi by the Congress