Karnataka: Congress buoyant even with one seat

ALL ABOUT VOTERS’ CHOICE

BENGALURU: Results of Belagavi Lok Sabha and Maski and Basavakalayan assembly constituencies were a mixed bag for the ruling BJP and opposition Congress.
While BJP retained Belagavi LS seat in a close battle and managed to wrest Basavakalayan assembly seat from Congress, the grand old party retained Maski assembly seat and won a ‘moral’ battle against the BJP in the parliamentary seat by giving the ruling party a run for its money.
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa had set his eyes on winning all three seats to silence his detractors in the party. He had even asked his son to oversee Maski assembly seat, but the results may not be to his liking.
After the poll verdict was out, some BJP functionaries bragged about the victory in Belagavi and Basavakalyan and defended the loss in Maski, blaming it on the candidate’s personal equation with the voters. But senior party functionaries admit that the results — winning the Lok Sabha seat by a wafer-thin margin in a constituency which has six BJP MLAs of total eight — is a cause for worry.
Deviating from last poll pattern
The saffron party had won the previous four polls by a big margin. Last time, late Union minister Suresh Angadi had won by a margin of over 4 lakh votes, a record of sorts. The results are even more worrying for the ruling party since all three constituencies where bypolls were held are in North Karnataka and dominated by Lingayats, considered BJP’s major vote bank in the state.
BJP had so far managed to win a majority of the bypolls even in Congress and JD(S) bastions, despite them being Vokkaliga-dominated constituencies. Last year, the party had triumphed in Sira and RR Nagar bypolls, both traditionally Congress strongholds, by a huge margin.
“We may have won by a small margin in Belagavi, but victory is victory. The gap reduced largely because of the unholy alliance politics in Maharashtra. MES, supported by Shiv Sena, tried to divide Maratha votes by fielding a candidate to ensure BJP’s defeat. But we still managed to overcome it by getting additional votes in Gokak and Arabhavi, with help of the Jarkiholi brothers,” said industries minister Jagadish Shettar, who led the BJP’s successful campaign in Belagavi.
Congress in Karnataka has been re-energised despite winning only one seat as it has managed to substantially increase its vote share. “In Belagavi, our share is 42.46 against BJP’s 43.07. Our vote share has gone up by about 11 per cent compared to the previous polls. This is significant for the party to expand its footprint in Belagavi and improve on caste calculus,” said Saleem Ahmed, KPCC working president.
Congress also claims that things would have been different had JD(S) not contested in Basavakalyan. JD (S) nominated Yasrab Ali Qadri as its candidate and he managed to get 12,000 votes of the total 30,000 Muslim votes. In 2018, Congress had won the seat with a margin of 17,000 votes.
Unlike this time, the saffron party had won the previous four polls by a big margin. Meanwhile, the Congress camp in Karnataka has been re-energised despite winning only one seat as it has managed to substantially increase its vote share

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