Bengaluru: The bypoll results for the three Lok Sabha constituencies – Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya; and two Assembly constituencies – Ramanagara and Jamkhandi, came as a major setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which lost four of them to the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka. Also Read - K'taka Bypoll Results: BJP Fails Key test as Congress Wins Reddy Brothers' Bastion Ballari Lok Sabha Seat
The by-election victories come as a major boost for the Congress-JD(S) alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, particularly when the BJP has been questioning the longevity of the alliance. Also Read - Karnataka By-election 2018 Results Live News Updates: Congress, JD(S) Win One Assembly Seat Each; BJP Wins Shivamogga
Making inroads in the BJP-held Ballari Lok Saba constituency, Congress candidate VS Ugrappa defeated BJP’s V Shantha, the sister of B Sriramulu, who gave up the seat after being elected to the state assembly in the polls in May this year. Also Read - Ramanagara And Jamkhandi By-election 2018 Results News Updates: Congress Registers Victory in Jamakhandi, JD(S) Bags Ramanagara Assembly Seat
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Bellary, which has voted the BJP since 2004 and is considered a stronghold of Reddy brothers – the mining barons – dumped the saffron party this time and voted in favour of the Congress-JD(S) alliance.
Meanwhile, JD(S) candidate L Shivarame Gowda established an unassailable lead of 3,24,925 votes against the BJP’s new face Dr Siddaramaiah, a former official, in the party bastion of Mandya in the Vokkaliga belt in the old Mysuru region.
Mandya is a stronghold of the Vokkaliga community to which JD(S) supremo and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda belongs.
Of the three Lok Sabha seats that went to the by-polls, BJP had held Shivamogga and Ballari and JD(S) Mandya.
The BJP managed to retain the Shivamogga constituency where its state party chief B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra was ahead of former chief minister S Bangarappa’s son Madhu Bangarappa of JD(S) by 52,148 votes.
In the Ramanagara assembly seat, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha Kumaraswamy established a huge margin of 1,09,137 votes over BJP’s L Chandrashekar, who pulled out of the contest but officially still remains the party candidate.
Chandrashekhar joined the BJP ahead of the polls but returned to the Congress weeks later, leaving the saffron party red-faced. Facing a no-contest, it was a walkover for Anitha Kumaraswamy.
In the Jamkhandi assembly segment in north Karnataka, Congress candidate Anand Nyamgouda defeated BJP’s Srikant Kulkarni by a margin of 39,480 votes, riding on a sympathy wave following his father and sitting MLA Siddu Nyamagoudas death in a road accident.
The Ramanagara assembly seat was held by the JD(S) and Jamkhandi by the Congress.
Elated over the victory, the Congress said it was just a “teaser” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “The sweeping victory of the Congress – JD(S) alliance in the #KarnatakaBypolls is just a teaser for what is in store for the BJP next year. Congratulations to all the winners,” the party tweeted.
Following the results, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy thanked the leaders and party workers of both the Congress and the JD(S) and said that the BJP’s contention of calling the alliance an “apavitra maitri” has been nullified.
“I congratulate Congress leaders in the state and at the Centre. I also congratulate JDS state leaders and workers who worked towards this win. BJP calls JDS-Congress coalition ‘Apavitra Maitri’, today that contention has been nullified,” he said.
“This elections was the first step. There are 28 LS seats, we’ll work with Congress to win all of them, that is our goal. This is not an empty boast just because we have won today. This is the confidence of people in us. This win is not making us arrogant,” Kumaraswamy added.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
“When @narendramodi does not answer questions of the ppl. Ppl will answer during elections. When @BJP4Karnataka forgets the mandate given by the people & get consumed by their arrogance. Ppl will make them bite the dust. This time it was Ballari mining dust #KarnatakaRejectsBJP (sic),” said Siddaramaiah.
Elated over the performance of the ruling alliance candidates, jubilant Congress workers distributed sweets and broke coconuts at various places.
Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed the results reflected the disenchantment of people with the BJP.
“Look at the margins…It’s clear that people are fed up with the BJP. This anti-people, anti-farmer, anti-women government at the Centre must go.
“All forces need to come together to take on the BJP. BJP will be wiped out of Karnataka in 2019 (Lok Sabha polls). If it is wiped out in Karnataka, it will be wiped out in the entire south India,” he said.
The announcement of the bypolls for the Lok Sabha seats came as a surprise to all the three major political parties in the state — the Congress, BJP and JD(S) — who questioned the need for the exercise when the general elections are due early next year.
The parliamentary by-elections were necessitated after BJP’s Yeddyurappa (Shivamogga) and Sriramalu (Ballari), and C S Puttaraju of the JD(S) (Mandya) resigned as MPs on their election to the assembly in May.
The by-election to the Jamkhandi assembly seat was caused by the death of Congress MLA Siddu Nyamagouda. The Ramanagara seat fell vacant after Kumaraswamy gave up the seat, preferring Chennapatna, the other constituency from where he had won.
The terms for the Bellary, Shivamogga and Mandya seats will be extremely short with the Lok Sabha elections due early next year.
Prior to the bypolls, the JD-S held Ramanagara and Mandya seats, while the Congress Jamakhandi and the BJP Bellary and Shimoga.