Gain of Congress and the loss of BJP is the sharpest in Udupi

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun to seek answers for its debacle in the elections to the urban local bodies (ULB), the results show that the party has lost nearly one-tenth of seats across coastal Karnataka compared to previous elections. The party, which had turned the coastal belt into its fortress, today enjoys majority only in four of the 22 ULBs.

The party’s tally is down by almost 50 seats — 49 to be precise — in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada. Worried about the slump, the party units went into huddle on Tuesday to discuss the people’s verdict.

The Congress continues to be jubilant as it has improved its tally by about 17 per cent by bagging 76 seats more across coastal Karnataka.

The gain of the Congress and the BJP’s loss is the sharpest in Udupi. The Congress increased its tally in the district by winning 25 per cent more seats while the BJP’s debacle was more pronounced than elsewhere (a 17 percentage points fall).

If you take the power equations across ULBs, the Congress is in majority or has emerged single largest party in 13 of the ULBs while BJP could claim such status only in four ULBs in the entire coastal region.

The two parties have identical number of seats in three ULBs in Uttara Kannada. The JD(S) and independents call the shots in one ULB each. After 2007 polls, the Congress was the single largest party or in majority in 11 ULBs as against the BJP’s nine.

Previous jolts

The BJP’s poor show has to be seen in the background of two jolts it had suffered in 2012 and 2008. Last March, the party was handed a defeat in Udupi-Chikmagalur Parliamentary by-election when K. Jayaprakash Hegde of the Congress won against BJP’s V. Sunil Kumar by a convincing margin.

The party had lost ground considerably in the 2008 Assembly elections when its tally of Assembly seats in the three districts came down by five seats and it could win only 10 out of 19 seats. In the 2004 elections, it won 15 of the 21 seats in the three coastal districts.

The loss of five seats in the coastal region had cost the party dear as it narrowly missed the majority in the 224-member Assembly and consequently the party resorted to wooing legislators from other parties by launching ‘Operation Lotus’.

In addition, the party’s vote share too came down by about three percentage points in 2008. In 2004, the BJP garnered 43.56 per cent of the 21.65 lakh votes polled. But in the 2008, the party’s share of votes was down to 40.71 per cent. Though one could attribute this to delimitation of constituencies, there was a level-playing field for all the parties.

On the other hand, the Congress consolidated its position in the region by polling nearly 3 percentage points more. It polled 41.22 per cent votes in 2008 as against 38.64 per cent in 2004.

Voters dump KJP and BSR Congress

Though B.S. Yeddyurappa’s KJP and B. Sriramulu’s BSR Congress fielded 87 and 94 candidates respectively in coastal Karnataka, the parties could not open account in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

In Uttara Kannada, a KJP candidate won in Kumta while three BSR candidates were elected — two in Ankola and one in Sirsi.