Karnataka: Best performance for Cong in a decade but nobody is celebrating | india | Hindustan Times
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Karnataka: Best performance for Cong in a decade but nobody is celebrating

Congress leaders seeking the ouster of chief minister Siddaramaiah are projecting this as his defeat. They are blaming him for not running a more cohesive campaign and being a divisive and autocratic leader.

india Updated: May 16, 2014 21:41 IST
Sudipto Mondal

The Karnataka BJP is jubilant. After all, they have exceeded their own expectations by at least five seats.

The Congress in the state too has had a good show – the best in a decade. But few in the ruling party, deeply divided as it is, are celebrating.

Congress leaders seeking the ouster of chief minister Siddaramaiah are projecting this as his defeat. They are blaming him for not running a more cohesive campaign and being a divisive and autocratic leader.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior State PCC leader told HT: "He has squandered the gains of last year's assembly elections (where the party won 122 of the 224 seats)."

Many in the party admit this has been the Congress' best performance since 2004, when it won eight seats. But they feel a more organised campaign could have yield more than nine seats.

Considering the national mood that has confirmed a 'Modi wave', it is a miracle that the Congress has prevented a washout in Karnataka. In fact, its vote share has gone up compared with 2009.

A legislator from North Karnataka confirmed that these results will embolden calls for Siddaramaiah's replacement. But a cabinet minister, known to be close to the chief minister, said, "The party has been decimated all across the country. With what moral right will the high command replace Siddaramaiah?"

The results have, however, surprised all in Karnataka, including the BJP which was smarting from a rout in the last assembly elections. Until the exit poll results came in a few days ago, top BJP leaders as well as sections of the RSS believed that the party would win 10-12 seats.

With the final tally exceeding their wildest expectations, most in the party raced to claim that Karnataka has experienced a wave in favour of their PM nominee Narendra Modi. A senior party strategist said: "There was a definite Modi wave. How else did people like Sriramulu, Yeddyurappa, Shobha Karandlaje and Ananth Kumar win? Most of our candidates could not have won on their own."
Not surprisingly, the BS Yeddyurappa camp wore a forced smile. They believe that this miraculous turnaround from last year's assembly election, could not have been possible without the Lingayat strongman's return to the saffron party. They are unhappy over his omission from the victory narrative.

Yeddyurappa chose to be diplomatic and told HT, "The full credit for this victory should go to Modiji. It also shows people have not forgotten the good governance provided during my tenure [as CM]."

Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah's former party, the Janata Dal (Secular), which won two seats, played a role much greater than the final tally suggests. The JD (S), which secured nearly 11% of the overall votes, split votes that would have otherwise gone to the Congress in as many as 10 constituencies.

Total seats: 28
BJP: 17
Congress: 9
JD (S): 2

Big winners:
BS Yeddyurappa (Shimoga)
Ananth Kumar (Bangalore South)
B Sriramulu (Bellary)
Mallikharjun Kharge (Gulbarga)

Big losers
Nandan Nilekani (Bangalore South)
V Balakrishnan (Bangalore Central)
HD Kumaraswamy (Chikballapur)