Bengaluru: In a major boost for the BJP after it lost face in Maharashtra, the saffron party today bagged 12 of the 15 constituencies that went to by-polls on December 5. The Congress lost 9 of the seats it had held and ended with just two. The father-sons party of JD(S) failed to open account and, from the role of a king-maker that it was expected to play, it ended as a pauper.
The BJP win was due to two factors: most of the candidates who stood for elections were popular on their respective turfs when they were with the Congress and now with the support of the BJP, they romped home. Secondly, the Congress and the JD(S) did not go in for a tie-up and ended up splitting the votes.
The poll outcome is a major boost for Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's leadership. He left no stone unturned during campaigning. It was a do or die battle for him.
With this win, chief minister's chair is safe for Yeddyurappa, leaving even his detractors baffled and silenced.
After the party's miserable show, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah resigned as the Congress Legislature Party leader. “I deem it necessary to step down as Leader of the CLP by taking moral responsibility”, he wrote in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dinesh Gundu Rao also tendered in his resignation.
Most candidates who won on a BJP ticket were earlier with the Congress or the JD(S). They switched loyalties to the BJP leading to the downfall of the HD Kumaraswamy led JD(S)-Congress alliance.
The shadows of the Maha Vikas Agadi in Maharashtra against defectors did not have any say in Karnataka.
"I thank people of Karnataka for their unwavering faith in BJP. Our government will continue to transform Karnataka under the guidance of PM Narendra Modi," Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted.
BJP leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the outcome of Karnataka assembly bypolls.
Fadnavis said the voters rejected parties who "stole" mandate for the sake of power, in an apparent reference to the Congress and the JD(S) joining hands to keep the BJP, which had emerged as the single-largest political formation after the 2018 Karnataka assembly polls, out of power.
"In the very first chance they get, this is how voters react to opportunist politics and stealing of mandate by rejected parties by coming together for the sake of power! Karnataka Bypolls result proves that people won't tolerate if someone tries to play with public mandate and wish," Fadnavis said in a tweet.
The BJP government in Karnataka needed only 5 seats to sail through, but with 12 in its kitty, the saffron party has nothing to worry about. It need not seek support of any other party.
But the BJP suffered a major setback in Hoskote where the richest candidate MTB Nagaraj lost. He was done in by BJP's stalwart and party MP Bachegowda who fielded his son Sharat Bachegowda as an independent to 'save the prestige' of the BJP by accepting a turncoat.
But the BJP managed to win all the urban Bengaluru seats – Yeshwantapura, KR Pura, Krishnarajapeta and Mahalakshmi Layout. In minority dominated Shivajinagar, the Congress won handsomely, indicating a massive polarisation of vote. The second seat that the Congress won was Hunsur.
The BJP bagged Athani, Kagwad, Ranibennur, Vijayanagara, Yellapur, Chickballapur, Gokak and Hirekurur.
The BJP fielded 13 of the MLAs who quit, with the Chief Minister describing them as "future ministers". But Yediyurappa's biggest challenge ahead will be to keep his flock together and also fulfil pre-poll promise to accommodate in the cabinet all turncoat MLAs who won their seats after quitting the Congress-JDS. Many loyalists, leaders and party workers are unhappy in giving cabinet berths to lateral entrants.
The BJP had to win at least seven seats for a majority in the assembly, which will have 222 members after the bypolls. Two seats are still vacant. The BJP currently has 105 MLAs and the support of one independent candidate, while the Congress has 66 and the JDS 34.