The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) created history on Thursday in Karnataka by winning 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats, the highest tally by any party in the state since 1989, when the Congress won 27 seats.
The performance was all the more impressive because the party garnered 51.3% of the vote share, the highest in its history and the highest by any party in the state since the Congress got 57.63% in 1984, according Election Commission data. In the process, the party gained about an 8% increase in vote share over 2014, when it had won 17 seats. Such was the BJP’s performance that it was able to ensure victory for a relatively unknown candidate — S Muniswamy, a Bengaluru corporator, who defeated KH Muniyappa, a seven-time MP. All three of its Union ministers from the state – Anantkumar Hegde, Ramesh Jigajinagi and DV Sadananda Gowda – won with comfortable margins. Hegde recorded the largest margin of victory, defeating rival Anand Asnotikar of the JD(Secular) by 4.79 lakh votes.
Crucially, the BJP was also able to retain the Bangalore South constituency, one of four it had won when it opened its account in the state in 1991. After the death of former Union minister HN Ananth Kumar, there had been speculation that the BJP hold on the constituency would wane. But it ensured that its youngest candidate in the state, 28-year-old Tejasvi Surya, won by a margin of 3.33 lakh votes against BK Hariprasad of the Congress. This performance comes just a year after the BJP fell short of a majority in the state assembly elections by nine seats. It had won 104 of the 224 assembly seats.
As a result, it had to watch from the sidelines as the Congress and JD (S) cobbled together an alliance and took charge of the state. The party swept the Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka, coastal and hill regions of the state.
In the southern Old Mysuru region, long believed to be a hurdle for the party, the Congress-JD(S) coalition was able to win only two seats — Bangalore Rural and Hassan. In Mandya, the BJP chose not to field a candidate and extended support to independent candidate Sumalatha, who defeated chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil.
Ravi said there were three primary reasons for the BJP victory. “First and foremost, there was a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is apparent if one looks at the national scenario,” he said, adding that the Opposition’s barbs against Modi backfired in the state. Second, the BJP was quick to re-orient itself towards the national elections unlike its rivals here. About six months ago, the party picked 16 of its incumbent MPs. Compare this with the confusion in the coalition ranks as seat-sharing discussions dragged well into March, when a formula was decided with weeks to go for the polls.
“By February, our state party president, BS Yeddyurappa, had begun touring the state and that was when we realized that we could win more than 22 seats,” he said.
The third factor that helped the BJP, Ravi said, was the constant bickering between the Congress and JD(S). “This helped show the people that the alternative was not really viable and in the absence of such dissidence in our ranks it ensured that we were much better prepared,” he added.
May 24, 2019 04:44 IST
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