» Election » Karnataka will send most BJP MPs to Lok Sabha

Karnataka will send most BJP MPs to Lok Sabha

By Vicky Nanjappa
May 17, 2009 14:57 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party's good run continued in Karnataka, where the party established its first government in south India.

BJP leaders will be pleased with the party's performance in Karnataka where it bettered its 2004 tally by one seat -- it won 19 Lok Sabha seats this election.

Karnataka will send the highest number of BJP MPs to the 15th Lok Sabha, more than Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where the party had been expected to win more than 20 seats each, but did not do so.

Political observers feel Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP's star campaigner in Karnataka, retained the popular appeal he exerted in last year's assembly election, helping the party pick up urban and rural votes in equal numbers.

Another factor that helped the BJP perform well was the inevitable infighting in the Congress party, which was undecided about its candidates and faced bickering over seat allocation.

The Congress pinned its hopes on senior leaders like C K Jaffer Sharief, Janardhan Poojary and Margaret Alva, all of whom lost the election, largely, because of inner-party discontent over their candidature.

Another setback for the Congress was Krishna Byre Gowda's defeat in the Bangalore South constituency at the hands of former Union minister Ananth Kumar who benefited from the division of votes between the young Congress nominee and Captain G R Gopinath, the high-profile Independent in the fray.

Ananth Kumar was also assisted by the low voter turnout in Bangalore South. Young voters stayed away from the polling booths which dented Byre Gowda's chances.

The biggest surprise this election was the BJP retaining the Dakshina Kannada constituency. The result proved an embarrassment for pundits who had predicted a Congress victory. Last year's attacks on churches and the January 24 attack on women in a pub were interpreted as hurting the BJP's changes in its strongest bastion in the state.

Some say these forecasts made the Congress's local unit over-confident, especially since the BJP and its sister units worked tirelessly to ensure newbie Nalin Kumar Kateel's victory.

BJP sources told that angry Hindu sentiment in the area helped Kateel vanquish Congress veteran Janardhan Poojary.

The BJP's strong performance has strengthened Yeddyurappa's position. The chief minister had come under attack from within his party and without in recent months.

Victory was especially sweet since his son B Y Raghavendra, who contested the Shimoga seat against former chief minister Sorab Bangarappa, won comfortably. The chief minister had been criticised within the BJP for what was perceived as dynastic politics.

Yeddyurappa also came under fire for nominating Janardhan Swamy to contest the Chitradurga seat. Again, the chief minister proved his critics wrong.

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Vicky Nanjappa