Political giants routed in Karnataka as BJP makes clean sweep
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had never lost an election since 1972. That was till he was defeated by BJP candidate Umesh Jadhav, a rebel Congress leader, in the Gulbarga seat, where he trailed by 95,168 votes at 6 pm.
A leader who never lost, a former prime minister, a seven-time MP, these were just some of the giants of Karnataka politics who were routed by the Bharatiya Janata Party as it went on to win 25 seats in the state in the Lok Sabha polls, results of which were announced on Thursday.
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had never lost an election since 1972. That was till he was defeated by BJP candidate Umesh Jadhav, a rebel Congress leader, in the Gulbarga seat, where he trailed by 95,168 votes at 6 pm. Since his first victory in the assembly elections of 1972, Kharge had won nine consecutive assembly elections and two consecutive Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and 2014.
Kharge’s colleague KH Muniyappa had won seven consecutive Lok Sabha elections from the Kolar constituency from 1991. He was defeated by S Muniswamy of the BJP, a corporator from Bengaluru, who was leading by a margin of 2.09 lakh votes at 6 pm.
In Chikkaballapur, former chief minister and union minister M Veerappa Moily of the Congress lost to BN Bache Gowda of the BJP by a margin of around 1.82 lakh votes.
In all three cases, the seniors had been hit by dissension from within their own parties. In Kharge’s case, a group of Congress defectors to the BJP had decided to defeat him and loosen his influence over the Gulbarga district.
Muniyappa faced anti-incumbency from within his party and local leaders had petitioned the party not to give him the ticket. A senior BJP leader said local MLAs of the Congress had helped the BJP candidate, an unknown in state politics, win there.
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was also unable to buck this trend. He lost to GS Basavaraj of the BJP by a slender margin of 12,387 votes in Tumkur, a seat he shifted to after leaving his home turf of Hassan to his grandson Prajwal Revanna.
The coalition had allotted the Tumkur seat to the JD(S) overlooking the claim of its incumbent MP SP Muddahanumegowda. This had caused dissidence from the Congress, with the latter even filing nomination as an independent. As a result, the coalition could not ensure a transfer of votes.
His other grandson, Nikhil Kumaraswamy was the other big loser of the day. He trailed independent candidate Sumalatha, who was backed by the BJP, in the Mandya constituency by 1.25 lakh votes at 6 pm.
A high-stakes battle emerged in Mandya and Sumalatha received the tacit support of Congress leaders from the district. As a result, Nikhil was unable to convert his considerable advantage to the JD(S).
State rural development minister Krishna Byregowda from Bengaluru North and Congress state working president Eshwar Khandre were the other big losers in the state. While Khandre lost to Bhagwant Khuba, incumbent MP from the BJP, by a margin of 1.16 lakh votes, Byregowda lost to union minister DV Sadananda Gowda by 1.47 lakh votes.