The ruling BJP was on Monday routed in the Karnataka urban local bodies (ULBs) poll, raising doubts about its prospects of retaining power in the state in the elections due in two months.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was a poor third, with the Congress emerging the winner followed by the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), as the votes polled on Thursday were counted.
The ballot was meant to elect over 4,900 people in 207 urban bodies. With around 4,600 results declared by 1.30pm, the Congress had bagged more than 1,800 seats, leaving the BJP way behind with about 840 seats. The JD-S was second with 880 seats.
Like the BJP, its former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who quit the party in November 2012 to head the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), was also routed. His party could win only around 270 seats.
Another outfit floated by B Sriramulu, a former BJP minister and close associate of jailed mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, bagged about 80 seats.
The BJP's poor show is a repeat of its performance in the last ULB polls held five years back when it came third behind the Congress and the JD-S.
It was then not in power in the state, which it captured in the May 2008 assembly elections.
The morale dampening showing for the BJP was all the more glaring as it lost in its perceived stronghold of coastal Karnataka. It struggled to win in chief minister Jagadish Shettar's home district Dharwad too.
The Congress emerged a clear winner in the 60-member Mangalore City Corporation bagging 35 seats while the BJP got 20 seats. The rest went to the JD-S, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the independents.
In the 67-member Hubli-Dharwad city corporation, the BJP got 28 of the 58 seats for which results were declared. The Congress took 21 seats, the JD-S eight and one seat was won by an independent.
Hubli and Dharwad are twin cities, 20 km apart. Dharwad is the administrative headquarters while Hubli is a major commercial centre.
Around 70% of 8.5 million voters of the state's more than 40 million electorates voted on Thursday.