M Raghuram | Sep 2, 2018 | 5 min read
K’taka municipality polls see BJP making giant strides
M Raghuram/Team 101Reporters
Bangalore: Elections for municipality councils in Karnataka show that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made the biggest gain over the last polls held in 2013.
In 2007 and 2013, all the city and town corporations in the state had gone to polls. However, this year, only about half of them witnessed elections. The remaining Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will face election the next year.
This time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won about 33% of the seats. In 2013, it had won 18% seats polled. To be noted that BJP lost some seats to Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) lanced by former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. The Janata Dal (Secular), which had won 30% seats in 2007 and 18% in 2013, secured about 13% seats this time. The Congress's winning percentage slid by 4% compared with its performance in 2013.
This year's polls also saw independent candidates and small parties, such as the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), making a dent in the final result. The SDPI, which has its base in Kerala, won seats in communally sensitive areas such as Ullal (six seats) and Bantwal (four seats) in coastal areas of Dakshina Kannada. Owing to SDPI, the JD(S) and independent candidates registering victory, the Congress is not in the majority in these ULBs despite being the single largest party.
Ullal is the Assembly constituency of Congress leader and minister for urban development and housing, UT Khader. It's in Dakshina Kannada district that the Congress faced its biggest loss compared with the 2013 ULB poll. Khader said the Congress would not forge an alliance with a communal party such as the SDPI and is content with sitting on the opposition bench. Reportedly, the newly elected councillors met Khader in the afternoon and requested him that the party consider an alliance with the JD(S) to claim power in Ullal city municipal council. Congressmen in the district have squarely blamed Khader and his former cabinet colleague B Ramanatha Rai for the party’s poor performance in this region.
Leaders feeling the heat
Likewise, many Congress leaders along the coast, Old Mysore region, Bayaluseeme and Northern Karnataka have been blamed for the party’s poor showing. Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge told FirstPost on phone that ULB elections are a small affair and this result should not be considered as people’s mandate against the party. Anand Asnotikar, a politician who has dabbled with both the BJP and the Congress in Uttara Kannada, shared the same opinion.
Congress heavyweights RV Deshpande and deputy chief minister G Parameshwara are also reportedly feeling the heat of the party's underwhelming performance in their home constituencies. In Tumkur (Parameshwar's Assembly constituency) and Uttara Kannada (Deshpande's constituency), the party had thrown its weight behind them in campaigning for the polls.
In Shivamogga, the stronghold of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP emerged as the largest single party with 19 seats in a city municipal council of 35 seats. Senior party leader and former chief minister KS Eshwarappa is reportedly happy with the party’s performance, though he believes it could have been better. With more than half the seats in its kitty, Yeddyurappa said the BJP would form the council in Shivamogga.
In the 65-seat Mysuru City Corporation, the BJP bagged 22 seats and emerged as the single largest party. Both the JD(S) and Congress won 19 seats each. JD(S) leaders are in talks with chief minister HD Kumaraswamy about joining hands with the Congress to be on the ruling bench. Congress leaders said this is the obvious decision.
Who won what
In Haveri in northern part of the state, the Congress bagged 66 of the 136 seats while the BJP won 43. The Congress also won majority in the town municipal councils of Hanagal and Savanur in Haveri district.
In Uttara Kannada district, no party gained majority in Ankola town municipality council though Congress won the most seats, followed by the BJP. The Congress recorded a thumping win in Yellapur and the BJP, for the first time, secured a majority in Mundgod.
In Karwar, the BJP and Congress won 11 seats each, while the JD(S) and independents won four and five seats respectively. This is reminiscent of the last election, when the BJP and Congress had won 13 seats each. In Sirsi’s 31 wards, the BJP won 17 and the Congress nine. Independents won in four wards while the JD(S) could bag only one seat.
In Dandeli, the BJP, which was non-existent till last Assembly election, won 11 seats. However, it’s the Congress that claimed victory here with 16 seats. Four independents got elected as councillors.
In Kumta town municipality, the BJP dominated the Congress and the JD(S) by winning 16 of the 23 seats; the Congress won six and the JD(S) one. In Haliyal town municipality, the Congress won 14 seats and the BJP seven. One independent candidate and one JD(S) candidate also secured victory.
In Yellapur town, the Congress won 12, BJP five and the JD(S) won one. An independent candidate also won one seat each. In Mundgod, for the first time ever, the BJP won 10 of the 19 seats; Congress candidates won all the other seats.
Next year, polls will be held for the high-stakes city corporation in Bengaluru, apart from ULBs in Mangaluru, Davanagere and Hubli-Dharwad.
(M Raghuram is a Mangalore-based freelance writer. He is a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)
With inputs from S. Shankar Patil. Deepak Kumar, Basavaraj M, Ravi Kumar, Ranjini S and Lakshmi B.
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