In what is perceived as a wave election, Congress has trumped its opponents Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular) across all regions, except in Coastal Karnataka where BJP has been successful in holding on to its fort.
South Karnataka and Malnad
Congress has recovered lost electoral ground in Old Mysore region, at the cost of JD(S), which dominated the region in 2018. The results have delivered a blow to the JD(S), whose relevance in State politics is, to a large extent, tied to its electoral performance in the region.
JD(S) had won 29 seats from Old Mysore region, drawing nearly 80% of its tally in the previous election. It is now down to 14 seats. Several prominent JD(S) leaders, including Nikhil Kumaraswamy, C.S. Puttaraju, D.C. Thammanna and H.K. Kumaraswamy, lost the polls.
Congress, which had won only 19 seats in 2018, has won a whopping 37 seats in the region. Both the Chief Minister aspirants from the party Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar scripted big victories in the region. The results seem to suggest a significant transfer of Vokkaliga votes from JD(S) to Congress, and a consolidation of Muslim votes in favour of Congress, defying attempts by JD(S) to woo Muslims.
BJP’s aggressive attempts to make inroads into the region may have not converted into an increase in its seat tally. V. Somanna who was contesting from two seats Varuna and Chamarajanagar, lost both. However, BJP’s vote share has increased in the region, which has led to the defeat of JD(S) in several seats, including Mandya.
Congress has scripted an upset defeat for BJP in Malnad region, dominated by BJP for many successive elections now.
Meanwhile, BJP has been able to retain its tally of 15 in Bengaluru, whereas Congress has improved its tally by one.
The region from where AICC president M. Mallikarjun Kharge hails and considered to be the stronghold of Congress, has expectedly given a majority to Congress. Congress has won 26 out of 41 seats this time, reducing BJP to 10 seats, JD(S) to 2 and two seats have gone to others. Though Congress had won 21 seats in 2018, post Operation Kamala and byelections, it was down to 18 seats and BJP’s tally stood at 19. Congress has won 8 more seats this election.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi held multiple rallies in the region especially targeting Kalaburagi, the home district of Mr. Kharge, Congress has won 7 of 9 seats in the district. The party has won all five seats in Ballari district, defeating even BJP heavyweight B. Sriramulu. G. Janardhan Reddy’s Kalyana Rajya Pragati Paksha seems to have failed to make a big impact, except for Mr. Reddy winning in Gangavathi.
Kittur Karnataka and Central Karnataka
The region, the bastion of Veerashaiva-Lingayats and by extension BJP, has posted the most upsetting defeat for the party. Congress that had won 19 seats, has increased its tally to 44, while BJP that had won 41 last election has fallen to 18 seats. Anti-incumbency factor and alleged “ill-treatment of Lingayats in BJP” narrative together with confusion over Panchamasali reservation seems to have helped Congress sweep the Kittur Karnataka region along with the two districts of central Karnataka.
BJP had two Lingayat rebels in the region in the form of former Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar who contested on Congress ticket. Though Mr. Shettar lost his seat with a big margin, their tirade against high handedness of few in BJP and alleged ill-treatment of Lingayats in BJP seems to have contributed a bit towards Congress regaining many of the seats. Influential Ministers like Murugesh Nirani, Govind Karjol and B.C. Patil have lost the polls.
This remains the only region in the State, where BJP has retained a lead over Congress. BJP’s tally was reduced by 3 seats, from 16 to 13. Even as Congress won those three seats and won a total of 6 seats. This is also the region where BJP changed 6 incumbent MLAs and fielded new faces. Though the region saw an intense communal campaign in the first half of 2022, BJP relegated Hindutva to the backburner and highlighted “development” and “benefits of double engine government”. However, controversy over Congress allegedly promising to ban Bajrang Dal may have given BJP a push in the region, it is speculated.