The Bharatiya Janata Party’s unprecedented performance in the State with a historic win in 25 out of 28 seats spans across all regions of the State.
The Congress, which has 10 seats in the outgoing Lok Sabha, has lost significant ground in Old Mysore region and Hyderabad Karnataka region, from where it had won a majority of its seats in 2014 when BJP-led NDA swept to power. It has lost five seats in Old Mysore region and three in Hyderabad Karnataka region, and also the lone seat in Bombay Karnataka region.
The saffron surge in Karnataka did not spare even the traditional strongholds of coalition partners Congress and JD(S) in Old Mysore region, leaving the alliance virtually in tatters. The triumph of BJP in many parts of this region has served to expose the chinks in the electoral partnership between the Congress and the JD(S).
Apart from triumphing in the three seats it held in Bengaluru and one in Mysuru, the BJP expanded its winning streak to Tumakuru, Chickballapur, Kolar and Chitradurga, humbling veteran leaders like former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily and former Union Minister K.H. Muniyappa, respectively. Rubbing salt into the wound of the JD(S) is the victory of BJP-supported Sumalatha against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s son K. Nikhil in Mandya.
The other big reverse for Congress has come in Hyderabad Karnataka region where it lost Kalaburagi — what was considered a safe seat, Ballari and Raichur Lok Sabha seats. Veteran parliamentarian M. Mallikarjun Kharge was the biggest loser for the party in North Karnataka. He faced his first loss in an electoral battle in a career spanning more than five decades. The gain through the hard fought victory in the bypolls to Ballari Lok Sabha constituency was shortlived as Congress leader V.S. Ugrappa lost to the BJP candidate. The party also lost Raichur seat where its candidate B.V. Naik had registered a narrow victory by 1,499 votes in 2014.
Of the 12 seats in North Karnataka, inclusive of both Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka, the BJP and Congress held eight and four seats, respectively. Congress has also lost its only seat from Bombay Karnataka region with the defeat of Prakash Hukkeri, a local strongman, in Chikkodi. Incidentally, he had won by a very narrow margin of 3,003 votes in 2014.
The coastal and Malnad region where BJP registered victories in 2014 remains unchanged. Riding on the “Modi wave”, the party continued its hold over the three coastal districts with the incumbents retaining their seats. The Congress replacing its long standing candidate B. Janardhana Poojary with Youth Congress leader Mithun M. Rai in Dakshina Kannada did not help the party to wrest the seat it lost to the saffron party about three decades ago. The united fight with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru and Uttara Kannada constituencies also failed to help trounce the BJP in those two constituencies.
The strong Hindutva sentiments in the coastal belt, resentment among Congress leaders for leaving Uttara Kannada and Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituencies to the JD(S), which did not have any base in the belt, to contest from and many senior and middle-rank Congress leaders staying away from the campaign, especially in Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada constituencies, appear to have helped the BJP to make a smooth sail towards the victory.
(With inputs from Laiqh A. Khan in Mysuru, Raviprasad Kamila in Mangaluru, and Girsh Pattanshetti in Hubballi)