Cong storms back to power in Karnataka, BJP decimated
Battered by a series of scams at the national stage, Congress put up an impressive show in the Assembly elections crossing the half-way mark of 113 seats in a House of 224 obviating the need for crutches and belying predictions.
The Congress has won 118 seats and was leading in three others, a gain of 41 seats over the elections five years ago, setting off a Chief Ministerial race into which OBC leader Siddaramaiah and Dalit leader and Central Minister Mallikarjun Kharge threw their hat.
Hit by the exit of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and the image of corruption during its tenure in the first government in the south, the BJP has won 37 seats and was leading in three more. It had had won 110 seats five years ago.
Similarly, the JD(S), which had 28 seats in the 2008 elections, has won 37 seats and was ahead in three more. The BJP and JD(S) are locked in a neck-and-neck race for the main opposition status.
The Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), which ended as a spoiler for BJP, could not do much for itself as it bagged only seven seats.
The BSR-Congress, led by former BJP Minister Sriramulu, considered close to the Bellary brothers, also chipped away BJP votes and ended up with four seats.
C P Yogeeshwara, who quit the Jagadish Shettar Ministry, towards the end of the tenure of the Government and contested on Samajwadi Party ticket, won from Channapata, defeating Anitha Kumaraswamy (JDS), wife of JDS state unit President H D Kumaraswamy, by nearly 6,500 votes.
Several heavyweights, including Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar (Hubli-Dharwad Central), Yeddyurappa (Shikharipura), Siddaramaiah (Varuna) and H D Kumaraswamy (Ramnagaram) , won from their constituencies but state Congress chief G S Parameshwara (Koratagere), a Chief Minister contender, lost heavily.
Kumaraswamy's wife Anita and Yeddyurappa's confidant Shobha Karandlaje suffered defeats from Channapatna and Rajaji Nagar respectively.
Twelve ministers of the Shettar Cabinet, including Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa, fell by the wayside, rubbing salt into the wounds of the vanquished BJP.
Polling was held in 223 segments, with the one in Periyapatna in Mysore district put off to May 28 following death of BJP candidate.
BJP's performance in its own strongholds was pathetic, reflected in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi where its defeat was near complete as also in Yeddyurappa's home district of Shimoga and Bellary.
Eshwarappa's loss in Shimoga is all the more significant as he was a former state unit President of the party and also held the key portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and Revenue. He was in the "hit-list" of Yeddyurappa, who now had the "sweet revenge".
Another big gun to lose was Industries Minister Murugesh R Nirani, who spearheaded two global investors meet, and was in two minds till the last minute whether to join forces with the KJP but eventually continued to be in the BJP, in Bilgi.
Congress candidate and former Union Civil Aviation Minister C M Ibrahim was pushed to third position in Bhadrawati.