BJP sweeps Karnataka bypolls, Congress accepts defeat

As the counting of votes are underway the ruling BJP is heading to sweep the bypolls after it was leading in 12 out of 15 Assembly constituencies.

Initial trends showed the Congress ahead in two seats, while independent candidate was maintaining lead in Hoskote.

The by-elections are considered a litmus test for four-month-old B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state as it needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority in the 225-member assembly.

The bypolls, held on December 5, were necessitated after 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs were disqualified after their revolt against the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July. The collapse of the coalition led to the BJP coming to power under Yediyurappa.

Twelve of the 15 seats were held by the Congress and three by JD(S).

The election saw former allies Congress and JDS contest separately.

The BJP fielded 13 of the MLAs who quit, with the Chief Minister describing them as “future ministers”. Chief Minister Yediyurappa’s next challenge is to keep his pre-poll promise he will need to accommodate MLAs who won their seats after quitting the Congress-JDS. However, many party workers and leaders were unhappy at the decision to field the rebels. Some joined other parties and the son of a sitting BJP MP contested as an independent.

An estimated 60 per cent of the total 3.8 million electors cast their vote in the Karnataka by-elections.

“We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat. I don’t think we have to be disheartened,” Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar said.

“The people of Karnataka have ensured that the Congress or the JDS will not be able betray them. It’s a message for all states that the public will punish those who go against the popular mandate,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Jharkhand today.