Bengaluru: In a Diwali gift ahead of 2019 general elections, the JD-S-Congress coalition on Tuesday worsted BJP 4-1 in the bye elections in Karnataka winning two Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies, while conceding the Shimoga parliamentary seat to the saffron party.
It was a resounding victory for the ruling coalition in just six months after the assembly elections which had returned a hung verdict forcing the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular to come together to form a coalition government. Hailing the victory, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy called for opposition parties to unite under the leadership of Congress President Rahul Gandhi to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the next year’s Lok Sabha elections as people were looking for an alternative.
While the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Congress won the Mandya and Bellary Lok Sabha seats, they also bagged the Ramnagaram and Jamkhandi Assembly seats. The Congress scored a major victory wresting the Bharatiya Janata Party citadel in Bellary (reserved) Lok Sabha seat, when its candidate V.S. Ugrappa defeated BJP’s J. Shantha by a margin of 2,43,161 votes. Ugrappa polled 6,28,365 votes against 3,85,204 secured by Shantha, sister of BJP leader B. Sriramulu, a close associate of controversial Reddy brothers.
The bye election was held in the Lok Sabha constituency, which has been held by the BJP since 2004, after Sriramulu resigned from the seat following his election to the state Legislative Assembly from Molakalmuru in May. Bellary was the Lok Sabha constituency where former Congress President Sonia Gandhi had defeated BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 general elections. Congress continued to win the seat till 2004, when the BJP wrested it and retained it till this bypoll.
It had pulled all stops during campaigning to ensure the victory for Shantha, who represented the constituency from 2009-14. In the JD-S stronghold of Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, its candidate L. Shivarame Gowda won by a margin of 3,24,943 votes against 2,44,404 secured by BJP’s Siddaramaiah.
The BJP only managed to win the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat where former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra polled 5,43,306 votes against 4,91,158 of JD-S nominee Madhu Bangarappa, the son of former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa. The victory margin was 52,148.
In the two assembly bypolls, the ruling alliance scored a resounding victory. The prestigious Ramnagaram seat went to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha, who won on the JD-S ticket by a huge margin of 1,09,137 votes. The 55-year-old Anitha defeated BJP’s L. Chandrashekar, who had quit the BJP to rejoin the Congress ahead of the November 3 bypolls. His nomination, however, remained since the final date of withdrawal had passed.
In the Jamkhandi assembly seat, Congress candidate Anand Siddu Nyamagouda, son of former Union Minister Siddu Nyamagouda, defeated BJP’s Shrikant Kulkarni by 39,480 votes. The seat had fallen vacant following the death of Nyamagouda senior.
With Tuesday’s victory, the strength of the ruling coalition in the 224 member assembly goes up to 120. Workers and supporters of the ruling alliance — JD-S and Congress — who contested the bye elections together, broke into celebrations across the party’s offices in Ramanagara and Jamkhandi district, as well as in Bengaluru. Around 66 per cent of the 54.5 lakh electorate had voted in the five bypolls on Saturday.