The Bharatiya Janata Party has received a second jolt after 2008 following the defeat of its candidate in Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha Constituency.
Though coastal Karnataka is seen as a BJP bastion, it lost ground considerably in the 2008 Assembly elections when its tally came down by five seats between the 2004 and 2008 elections in the three districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada. In 2008, it won only 10 of the 19 seats, while in the 2004 it won 15 out of 21 seats.
In addition, the party's vote share also came down by about 3 per cent in 2008. In 2004, the BJP had gained 43.56 per cent of the 21.65 lakh votes polled in the three districts. But in 2008, its share of votes was down to 40.71 per cent. Though one could argue that delimitation of constituencies was to blame, all political parties had a level playing field.
On the other hand, the Congress consolidated its position in the region by polling 41.22 per cent of the 22.12 lakh votes as against 38.64 per cent of the 21.65 lakh votes in 2004 in the three districts.
Interestingly, the BJP had lost about 43,000 voters between 2004 and 2008 in absolute numbers, though total votes polled had increased substantially in 2008.
In a Lok Sabha constituency where seven of the eight MLAs are from the BJP, the party suffered a humiliating defeat on Wednesday.
In 2009 elections, the BJP was successful in retaining all the three Lok Sabha seats in coastal Karnataka.
The party's share in 2009 parliamentary elections was 48.06 per cent of the polled votes in Udupi-Chikmagalur.
It has come down now to 41.39 per cent — a decline of over 7 percentage points (over 48,000 voters in absolute terms).
The Congress share has gone up by nearly two percentage points (gain of about 23,000 voters).
The voters in Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency, where women outnumber men, may not have taken kindly to the “rave” on St. Mary's islands, organised by BJP functionaries, and the porngate scandal.
The attacks on minority institutions in the region and the increase in moral policing by Sangh Parivar youth organisations could also have played a role in alienating its constituency.