KARNATAKA

It was a touch-and-go affair for Kharge

CELEBRATION: Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge (centre), his wife Radhabai Kharge and outgoing Gulbarga MP Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi (left) in a happy mood after the results went in his favour in Gulbarga on Saturday.

CELEBRATION: Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge (centre), his wife Radhabai Kharge and outgoing Gulbarga MP Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi (left) in a happy mood after the results went in his favour in Gulbarga on Saturday.  

Special Correspondent

GULBARGA: In a touch-and-go affair, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly M. Mallikarjun Kharge emerged victorious in the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency, defeating Animal Husbandry Minister Revu Naik Belamgi by a margin of just over 13,300 votes.

Mr. Belamgi, who started the race as a dark horse in the constituency dominated by the Congress for decades, established an initial lead at the beginning of the counting of votes on the Gulbarga University campus here on Saturday.

At one stage, to everybody’s surprise, Mr. Belamgi had established a lead of around 10,000 votes. Mr. Kharge edged ahead after counting of votes from 708 polling booths was completed and never looked back. Mr. Kharge’s final tally was 3,45,142 votes against the 3,31,837 polled by Mr. Belamgi.

The BJP did not lead by much in the Assembly segments won by it in the 2008 Assembly elections, and surrendering of the lead to the Congress in the Jewargi Assembly segment proved costly for Mr. Belamgi in what otherwise was a close contest in the other Assembly segments.

Even in the Gulbarga Rural Assembly segment represented by Mr. Belamgi in the Assembly, the lead for the BJP was less than 2,000 votes. The party secured a lead of just over 8,000 votes in the Gulbarga South Assembly segment, represented by the BJP’s Chandrasekhar Patil Revoor. For Mr. Kharge, the solid lead of more than 16,200 votes in the Chitapur Assembly segment.

It was represented by Mr. Kharge, more than 6,900 votes in the Gurmitkal Assembly segment and a lead of 8,792 in the Gulbarga North Assembly segment represented by the former Minister Qamar-ul-Islam, proved crucial.

The lead of nearly 3,000 votes secured in the Jewargi Assembly segment represented by the BJP’s Doddappa Gowda Naribol was the icing on the cake for the Congress. The Congress also gained a lead of more than 4,850 votes in the Sedam Assembly segment represented by Sharanaprakash Patil of the Congress.

Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Babu Honna Naik secured just 27,130 votes and lost his deposit along with seven other candidates, including Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Mahadev S. Dhanni.

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