In a fiercely contested battle, Congress candidate K. Venkatesh defeated his nearest rival, K. Mahadev of the Janata Dal (Secular), by a margin of just over 2,000 votes in the Assembly election from Periyapatna constituency, the results of which were declared on Friday.
The election was postponed from May 5 to May 28 after the death of the BJP candidate Sannamoge Gowda. With this victory, the Congress has retained the constituency and increased its tally in the 224-member Assembly from 121 to 122 seats.
Mr. Venkatesh, who has been elected to the Assembly five times, is winning from Periyapatna for the third consecutive time.
He was elected thrice as MLA from the Janata Parivar (1985, 1994 and 2004) and on a Congress ticket in 2008.
A reverse for the Congress would not have affected the government, but it would have been an embarrassment to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on his home turf. Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had campaigned hard to beat his political bête noire, Siddaramaiah, who bitterly parted ways with the JD(S) in 2006 and joined the Congress.
Mr. Venkatesh, who won by 2,088 votes, polled 62,045 votes, while Mr. Mahadev mustered 59,957.
There were eight candidates in the fray, of whom six forfeited their deposits.
The BJP had the mortification of seeing its candidate, R.T. Satish, coming fourth with only 3,731 votes, behind H.D. Ganesh of the BSR Congress who polled 5,669 votes. It was a see-saw contest that saw the JD(S) candidate racing ahead in the first four rounds of counting after which Mr. Venkatesh snatched a slender lead and maintained it till the final round of counting was over.
Interestingly, the former MLA H.C. Basavaraju who contested on a Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) ticket read the writing on the wall after the party’s dismal performance elsewhere in the State and withdrew from fray after the last date for withdrawal of nominations was over, and joined the Congress. However, there were 827 votes registered against his name.
The Congress victory is a reaffirmation that its citadel in Mysore district is intact, and it has repeated its 2008 performance by winning eight out of the 11 Assembly constituencies.