The BJP and Congress both claimed that candidates backed by them were winning in Karnataka gram panchayats even as the State Election Commission (SEC) took exception to news channels projecting party-based victories during the counting of votes on Wednesday.
Counting of votes started 8 am and continued late into the evening. Just hours into the process, however, a section of media began calling the election in the favour of some political parties.
The SEC had to step in and remind the media that the gram panchayat elections are apolitical in that candidates did not fight them on party symbols. Candidates, however, are backed by political parties.
Panchayat elections are often seen as a measure of the mood of the electorate.
Earlier in the day, BJP national general secretary (organization) BL Santhosh congratulated his party. “Of 82616 wards in GP elections in Karnataka, BJP is ahead with victory in 5,344 wards (48%) as of now. Great going...Congratulations,” he said in a tweet.
Similarly, BJP’s Udupi-Chikmagalur MP Shobha Karandlaje tweeted party-wise results for 30,418 wards, according to which the BJP had 12,795, Congress 9,545, JD(S) 4,301...Saffron continues to surge, development is leading against appeasement!” she wrote.
But Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah claimed otherwise. “Reports suggest that Congress-supported candidates are winning,” he tweeted. “Rural India is frustrated by the policies implemented by BJP. Farmers are against anti-farmer laws and they found gram panchayat elections as the perfect opportunity to teach BJP a lesson,” he charged.
Siddaramaiah further claimed that rural India “has always supported Congress” in gram panchayat elections. “Tradition of winning has continued,” he said.
The Congress leader also accused the BJP of “trying to lure our candidates” with threats and money. “This is a challenging time for Congress. BJP leaders are frustrated that they could not win the hearts of rural India,” he said.
The 2-phased gram panchayat polls had 2.22 lakh candidates in the fray.
State Election Commissioner B Basavaraju told DH that officials were still compiling the results. “Every ballot paper will contain more than one vote. So, every vote will have to be counted, which is a time-consuming process,” he said.