BJP loses its only Bastion in the South; Congress sweeps Karnataka Assembly elections

With the last votes counted on Saturday evening it became clear that Congress had swept the Karnataka Assembly polls and was all set to form a comfortable majority government in the southern state of India. Incumbent BJP’s performance in its stronghold and the only bastion in the south was so poor that it could only manage to get less than half of what Congress won with 65 as against 136 of the latter. Karnataka State Assembly comprises of 224 seats with 113 as the majority mark.

Out of 224, Indian National Congress (INC) became the largest party by winning 135 seats, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 66, Former PM HD Deva Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) won 19, Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha won 1 each and independents won 2 seats.

The elections to the state assembly of Karnataka was held on May 10 after a very high-profiled election campaign with 2,613 contesting candidates.

Stakes were high for the Congress as it was among the first state elections after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, Mallikarjun Kharge’s election as Congress head and its claim to secure a central position in an effort to erect an united opposition against BJP in 2024 but was never higher than the incumbent BJP in the state as well as the in the central government. Karnataka is the only state in the south that BJP has a strong presence despite its overwhelming dominance in the north Indian politics. It is reported that BJP held more than 9,000 rallies during its campaign with PM Modi taking part in 19 major rallies and roadshows. While Congress tried to attract voters with its promises of reservation and freebies, BJP relied heavily on the national image of PM Modi, issue of national security and polarization. Karnataka’s win would have kept BJP’s momentum for the upcoming state elections of southern states like Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

After election loss, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has tendered his resignation to Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot while victorious Congress is yet to announce its Chief Ministerial face. Former CM and Congress heavyweight Siddaramaiah is reported to be in the race along with Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief DK Shivakumar.

According to the Election Commission of India, Karnataka registered “record 73.19 percent” voters’ turnout in May 10 polls where 42 lakhs newly registered along with 5.3 crore voters were eligible to vote in the elections across 37,777 locations in 58,545 polling stations.

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