BANGALORE: The faction-ridden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka suffered a rude shock when its candidate Sunil Kumar lost the prestigious byelections to the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat vacated by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to Congress candidate K Jayaprakash Hegde by over 45,000 votes on Wednesday.
Hegde, who polled 3,98,723 votes, trounced Kumar in a keenly-contested byelection in which JD(S) candidate Bhoje Gowda lost his deposit. With this win, Hegde exacted revenge for his defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in which he had lost to BJP’s Sadananda Gowda by a margin of over 27,018 votes.
With this win, Congress has regained its bastion Udupi-Chikmagalur after losing it to BJP in 1998.
Hegde’s win should be a morale booster to the state Congress, which was reeling under severe electoral reverses. The Congress had fared poorly and had also lost as many as 19 Assembly seats among the 21 for which byelections were held since the BJP came to power in Karnataka.
JD(S) candidate Bhoje Gowda, who was expected to put a spanner in the Congress’ wheels, however ended third by garnering around 70,000 votes.
Congress’ win is significant as it has came from a region, which the BJP considered its fiefdom.
The Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency in which the Congress has just one of the eight Assembly segments with the rest represented by BJP, speaks for the size of the defeat suffered by the saffron party.
While Congress’ win was possible due to the unified fight by party leaders in which almost all top leaders of the grand old party, including Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Labour Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge, Union Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily and Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa campaigned, the internal feud within the ruling BJP seems to have marred the prospects of the party candidate.
Reacting to the party’s victory, Krishna said it would herald a new era for the Congress in Karnataka and help it regain its past glory.