First single vote runner-up campaigning for arch-rival

First single vote runner-up campaigning for arch-rival

A R Krishnamurthy and R Dhruvanarayana

In elections, every vote counts. On voting day, political parties strive to get each and every vote polled. It's because they know the stories of A R Krishnamurthy and C P Joshi who lost by the margin of a single vote.

Former Janata Dal (Secular) MLA A R Krishnamurthy was the first candidate to lose an election battle by one vote after the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs). Following in his father B Rachaiah's footsteps, he became an MLA from Santhemarahalli constituency for two terms (in 1994 and 1999). 

Seeking a third term as MLA, Krishnamurthy contested from the same constituency as a candidate of the JD(S) in the 2004 Assembly elections. His main opponent was the previous runner-up R Dhruvanarayana, who had switched to the Congress from the BJP.

Krishnamurthy was in the JD(U) led by former chief minister J H Patel in 1999 and joined the JD(S) before the 2004 elections. In a close fight, both candidates got 42.77 per cent of the votes. On counting day, the candidate in the lead kept switching every minute. For both candidates, it was a painful time. And the supporters were left clueless. 

When the counting was done, Krishnamurthy got 40,751 votes and Dhruvanarayana secured 40,752 votes. Unable to believe this, Krishnamurthy requested a recount of the tabulated figures. However, the result remained the same and Dhruvanarayana was declared the winner at 8 pm.

Krishnamurthy alleged that his opponent Dhruvanarayana received indirect support from the BJP as the vote share of the saffron party saw a huge change. "I got votes of one party, while Dhruvanarayana got both Congress and BJP votes. BJP had secured more than 28,000 votes in 1999 but in 2004 it had only over 3,000 votes. About 25,000 BJP votes polled for Congress to avoid me winning that time," Krishnamurthy told DH.

The disappointed Krishnamurthy went to the Karnataka High Court and they pronounced an interim order in his favour. It was, however, challenged in the Supreme court by his opponent. Though the Supreme Court upheld the interim order, the final verdict is yet to arrive.

Krishnamurthy later switched to the BJP in 2008 and served as state vice president of the party. He joined the Congress last year after the statement of Anand Kumar Hegde on the Constitution.

Dhruvanarayana repeated his victory in the next Assembly elections in 2008 but this time, he had a majority of 11,800 votes from Kollegal constituency and Krishnamurthy wound up in the fourth position below N Mahesh. 

Dhruvanarayana later contested in the Chamarajnagar Lok Sabha constituency in 2009 and registered a narrow win with a margin of just over 4,000 votes. This time, Krishnamurthy was his opponent as the BJP candidate. In 2014, Dhruvanarayana managed to increase his margin to 1,41,182 votes over Krishnamurthy, who got 426,600. 

Krishnamurthy, as a candidate of the Congress, contested in the 2018 Assembly elections in Kollgal constituency and lost to N Mahesh of the BSP, who had support from the JD(S).

In a twist this year, Dhruvanarayana is the candidate of the Congress-JD(S) coalition from the same Lok Sabha constituency and Krishnamurthy is leading the campaign for his bitter foe as the two of them are now part of the Congress!

In the 2008 Rajasthan Assembly elections, the Congress party's state chief C P Joshi also lost by one vote. Ironically, two of his family members did not vote in that election.

During the ballot paper era, there were a couple of such close losses, which were mainly due to human error. Even a tie had been reported then.