Karnataka ULB polls: Congress leaves BJP behind

Karnataka ULB polls: Congress leaves BJP behind

The results set off alarm bells in the BJP as this could be seen as a sign of anti-incumbency

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. Credit: DH File Photo

The Congress gained an upper hand in the Karnataka urban local body (ULB) elections whose results came out on Thursday, with the party attributing its better performance to the ruling BJP's "hopeless governance".

The results set off alarm bells in the BJP as this could be seen as a sign of anti-incumbency, even as the saffron party said the losses occurred in places where there are more minority voters.

Elections were held in 58 ULBs across 20 districts for 1,184 wards, making this a dipstick survey of sorts to gauge the public mood at the grassroots level.

The Congress won 501 wards, the BJP 433 and the JD(S) 45. The remaining 205 seats were bagged by Independents and smaller parties, according to the State Election Commission.

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Of the 58 ULBs, the Congress is expected to take control of over two dozen of them, while at least nine have a fractured mandate.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai faced a setback in his in his home district of Haveri, where the Congress retained the Bankapur town municipal council and Guttal town panchayat.

The BJP also lost badly in the Yakshamba town panchayat located in Muzrai Minister Shashikala Jolle’s constituency. In Nayakanahatti town panchayat, which is ST Welfare Minister B Sriramulu’s turf, the Congress won a majority.

In the Kekkera town municipal council, MLA Raju Gowda, a former minister, could not see the BJP through. He told reporters that this is a warning that should be taken seriously.

The Congress projected the result as a sign of things to come. “The Congress winning more seats compared to the ruling BJP is the reflection of their hopeless governance. This is an indication of what we can expect in the eventual general elections,” Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said.  

The results, however, reinforce to some extent the popular notion that the BJP is stronger in urban areas, as the party won more seats than the Congress in the five city municipal councils that went to polls.

The BJP’s tally is lower than the Congress in town municipal councils and town panchayats. Its poll managers attribute this to the presence of a sizable number of minority voters in these smaller towns.

“Our performance has improved and it could have been better,” Bommai said. “If you observe, these are places where minorities are more. Due to our efforts, we’ve done better in Gadag and other places,” he said.

In his own constituency Shiggaon, Bommai said 65 per cent voters are minorities. “We’ve never won in Bankapur,” he pointed out.

The BJP managed to wrest the Gadag-Betageri city municipal council from the Congress.

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