In 12/15 sweep in Karnataka bypoll, BJP also gets a seat it could never win
BS Yediyurappa, who came to power with a wafer-thin majority soon after, needed to win 6 out of the 15 seats to hold on to his chair.Updated: Dec 09, 2019 15:34 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in 12 of the 15 Karnataka seats voted last week to decide the survival of the government led by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. The BJP had come to power in July this year after 17 Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers were disqualified from the assembly under the anti-defection law, toppling the previous HD Kumaraswamy government.
BS Yediyurappa, who came to power with a wafer-thin majority soon after, needed to win 6 out of the 15 seats to hold on to his chair. He is going to get twice as many and will have the support of 117 members besides one independent in the 224-member assembly. The Congress will have 68 members, the JDS remains unchanged at 34 and the BSP, 1 seat.
Before the results were out, the ruling BJP had the support of 105 lawmakers in the 208-member assembly.
Watch l Karnataka by-polls counting: BJP leading, Yediyurappa govt set to survive
The bypolls were held on 15 out of the 17 vacant assembly seats since petitions challenging the results of the remaining two seats in 2018 elections remain pending before the Karnataka high court.
The BJP raced ahead in early leads that emerged within minutes of the start of counting. In just about two hours, the BJP had a clear lead in 12 of the 15 seats. The Congress held the 12 of the 15 seats and the JD (S) the remaining three.
Senior Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar was the first to accept defeat.
“We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat,” Shivakumar said, according to news agency ANI. The senior Congress leader, however, asked his party workers not to let the defeat pull them down. “I don’t think we have to be disheartened,” he said.
By then, BJP workers had already been celebrating the party’s BJP headquarters in Bengaluru’s Malleshwaram. Party workers danced on the streets, distributed sweets and raised slogans hailing state leaders as well as prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
In another seat, an independent candidate Sharath Bachegowda was ahead of BJP’s MTB Nagaraj in Hoskote. BJP leaders say Bachegowda is a BJP rebel and would support the government if he wins over the party’s official candidate.
But it was in Krishnarajapete (KR Pete), a rural seat in the Janata Dal Secular’s stronghold of old Mysuru region that the BJP’s win is most spectacular. It was one of the few seats that the BJP had never won in Karnataka. It was also one of the seats where the Janata Dal Secular leaders had deployed its heavyweight campaigners and asked voters to teach the defectors a lesson. HD Kumaraswamy, one of the prominent JDS leaders to campaign in the constituency, had asked people to punish the JDS defector Naryana Gowda “who has slit our throat”. That emotional pitch didn’t work. Naryana Gowda secured about 37 percent votes, ahead of the JDS candidate BL Devaraj who is trailing with 35 per cent votes.
“I thank the voters for ensuring that the BJP has, for the first time, won in Mandya district,” Chief Minister Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra, who was anchoring the party’s campaign in KR Pete, said.
“The victory is sweeter as my father (BSY’s) native place Bookankere is in the constituency,” Vijayendra said.
KR Pete has been a fortress of the Janata Dal Secular in Karnataka’s Vokkaliga belt.