Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa is a contented man. Whatever the BJP’s fortunes in the rest of the country, in Karnataka it has retained its supremacy by winning 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies – one more than it had done in 2004.
While the ruling party swept the polls in coastal and central Karnataka, and areas that were once part of the Bombay Presidency, its rival, Congress did even worse than in 2004.
It won only six seats — four in south Karnataka and two in Hyderabad-Karnataka areas — compared to eight in 2004.
The Janata Dal (S), whose chief, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda was the architect of the Third Front, marginally improved its position from two seats in 2004 to three. Deve Gowda retained his home turf, Hassan, with a record 2.91 lakh vote victory. His son and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, too won.
“We have to bow to the peoples’ verdict,” Deve Gowda told HT on telephone. “I will not speak more because I am down with fever and severe bronchitis.”
The BJP won all three seats in the coastal Mangalore region — the very area which saw attacks on churches and moral policing by the Sri Rama Sene. Likewise, it bagged all seats in Mumbai-Karnataka region and central Karnataka primarily because of a divided Congress. Lingayats, OBCs and scheduled castes all supported it strongly.
Yeddyurappa attributed his party’s victory to developmental schemes initiated by his government. “I had predicted 20 seats, we have won 19,” he said.
For the Congress biggies in the state, it was a mixed bag. While former chief ministers M. Veerappa Moily (Chikballapur), N Dharam Singh (Bidar), and Union minister KH Muniyappa (Kolar) emerged victorious, former Union ministers Margaret Alva (Uttara Kannada) and B Janardhan Poojary (Dakshina Kannada) lost. “...we lost because we couldn’t match the resources of the ruling party and because of the delay in selection of candidates,” says RV Deshpande, President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
Dr Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and Director of International Academy for Creative Teaching, Bangalore, attributed the BJP’s popularity to the complete erosion of the Congress’ base in northern areas of Karnataka and factions within the state unit.