A mixed bag


The results of the Karnataka legislative council elections to 25 seats from local authorities’ constituencies have proved to be a mixed bag for the ruling BJP and Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Though, on the face of it, the BJP won 10 seats, six more than the number it had held earlier, the party did not do as well as its leaders had hoped for. In keeping with the recent trend towards ‘going all out’ for win, the ruling party more than the others, went out of the way to lure the prospective voters, which does not augur well for democratic polity in the state. The recent fissures in the BJP also seemed to have played a role in some of its candidates losing the elections. Significantly, despite having 17 MLAs in Bangalore city, the BJP lost the lone council seat to the Congress candidate.

The biggest loser, of course, was the Congress whose downward spiral since the May 2008 elections have continued. Fighting the council elections in alliance with the JD(S), the Congress managed to win 10 seats, but it was down by as many as nine seats. Now the party is in danger of losing its position as the principal opposition in the council as its leader V S Ugrappa did not even contest the polls, perhaps thanks to the ‘arrangement’ with the JD(S). The JD(S) has increased its tally in the House to 17 with five of its nominees emerging victorious, mainly from its stronghold of old Mysore areas.

As the 19-month-old Yeddyurappa government is rivan by internal bickerings and the air is thick with rumours of somehow putting together an alternative government when the situation so develops, the Congress is really on the horns of a dilemma. As the council elections have shown, it is only the combined opposition which can give the BJP the run for its money, but it also means that the Congress aligning with the JD(S) will really benefit the latter more than the Congress. While the state Congress leaders have been vehemently opposed to joining hands with the JD(S) and want to rebuild the party at all levels, the party high command seems to be more concerned about halting the growth of the BJP in Karnataka. JD(S) is already pressing for continuing the alliance in the ensuing BBMP elections as well and it will be interesting to see whether the Congress high command will go by expediency rather than long-term interests of the party. 

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