A. Jayaram

Congress confident of winning 140 Assembly seats if snap polls are held

The Congress secures majority in 14 zilla panchayats It can come to power in seven more panchayats

BANGALORE: Encouraged by its improved performance in the elections to zilla and taluk panchayats compared with last year's poor show in the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is confident of winning 140 of the 224 seats in the Assembly if snap polls are to be announced.

According to party sources, leaders of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) have informed the high command of their readiness to face elections to the Assembly and emerge victorious.

Following a study of results of the elections to zilla panchayats made by the KPCC, the party leaders have said the Congress can come to power in seven panchayats, where it has failed to secure a majority, without an alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular). The Congress has won a majority of seats in the Bagalkot, Bangalore Urban, Belgaum, Bijapur, Chamarajanagar, Chitradurga, Davangere, Gadag, Haveri, Kolar, Koppal, Raichur, Udupi and Uttara Kannada zilla panchayats. Its success has been emphatic in Bangalore Urban, Chamarajanagar, Chitradurga, Gadag, Kolar, Koppal and Raichur. In the other districts, its majority is slender.

The JD(S) has secured a majority in Hassan and Bangalore Rural ZPs. It is a hung ZP in Bellary with the BJP winning 18 of the 36 seats, but not securing a majority. The Congress won 10 and the JD(S) eight seats. The BJP can gain control over the ZP only with the help of the JD(S).

Similarly, if the JD(S) stops calling the BJP communal, it can gain control over the Tumkur and Bidar ZPs. In Tumkur, where the Congress-JD(S) relations are at their worst, the Congress has won 27 of the 57 seats, JD(S) 26, the BJP three and one by an independent.

The JD(S) can frustrate the Congress in the Bidar ZP where the latter could get only 12 of the 31 seats. The BJP and the JD(S) have secured eight seats each and the All India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD) one. The BJP can come to power in Dakshina Kannada with the help of the JD(S). The BJP and the Congress have won 15 seats each and the JD(S) five. The Congress and the JD(S) are expected to recite the "keep the communal BJP away" mantra to come to power. The Congress is confident of gaining control over the Chikmagalur and Dharwad zilla panchayats with the help of independents and smaller parties. In Chikmagalur, the Congress won 14 of the 34 seats.

It can bank on the support of three members from the AIPJD, two from the CPI and one independent. In the 22-member Dharwad ZP, the Congress (nine) can bank on the support of six independents most of whom are said to be its rebel candidates. The JD(S) and the BJP bagged five and two seats, respectively. For the Congress and the JD(S), the most prestigious ZP appears to be Mandya where they have failed to gain a majority. The JD(S) won 18 of the 40 seats. The Congress, which bagged 16 seats, expects the support of five AIPJD members and the lone independent.