BJP's setback

The results of the first Assembly byelections across nine states after the last Lok Sabha elections in May, largely conform to the earlier trend. The Congress and its allies have won nine of the 17 seats, helped to a large extent by the meaningless boycott of polls by the AIADMK and its partners in Tamil Nadu. The misery of the Congress party in Karnataka — where five seats were at stake — however, continued as it managed to win only one in Bangalore city, while the ruling BJP and the JD(S) shared the other four equally. The defeat of Congress stalwart Mallikarjun Kharge’s son, Priyank Kharge at Chitapur and the party’s failure to retain Kollegal was especially hard. The JD(S) has managed to keep its relevance by retaining Ramanagar and wresting Channapatna from the Congress.

In this round of elections, the biggest shock was reserved for the ruling BJP in Karnataka. Though it managed to win two seats and increase its MLAs’ tally in the Assembly to 117, two of the ‘defectors’ who contested on its behalf lost. Housing and Muzrai Minister V Somanna, who quit Congress to join the BJP and become a minister, has been defeated at Govindarajanagar, causing acute embarrassment to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Minister Krishnaiah Setty had been asked to step down to make way for Somanna — whose services the BJP required in the upcoming Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike elections — but with his humiliating defeat, Somanna will have to resign from the ministry. The BJP should realise at least now that its ‘Operation Lotus’ cannot be replicated for ever.

Elsewhere in the country, Karunanidhi and his allies have strengthened their positions, thanks to an obdurate Jayalalitha who refused to put up candidates. In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati by winning three seats, snatching two from the SP, has proved that BSP is still a force to reckon with. It also confirms the downward spiral of Mulayalam Singh Yadav’s party in the UP. In West Bengal, following a spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress continued its good showing by winning both Bowbazar and Sealdah, earlier held by the Congress but left them to its ally this time.

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