Bangalore, Aug 25 IANS | 3 months ago

The ruling Congress wrested the prestigious Bellary (ST) seat and retained Chikkodi-Sadalga in the Karnataka by-polls by huge margins Monday, thereby recovering from the setback suffered in the 2014 general election in the state.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, had the consolation of retaining Shikaripura by a narrow margin in the by-elections held Aug 21.

N.Y. Gopalakrishna of the Congress trounced Obalesh of the BJP by 33,104 votes in the Bellary reserved constituency, 330 km from Bangalore.

Of the total votes polled, Gopalakrishna secured 83,906 and Obalesh 50,802.

The election was held following the resignation of former BJP minister B.R. Sriramulu, who contested on the BSR ticket in the May 2013 assembly polls, upon winning the Bellary Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket.

In Chikkodi-Sadalga, Ganesh Hukkeri of the Congress defeated K.M. Mallikarjun of the BJP by 31,820 votes.

The resignation of former Congress minister Prakash Hukkeri, father of Ganesh, after he won the Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat led to the by-election in this constituency, about 570 km from Bangalore.

In Shikaripura, B.Y. Raghavendra of the BJP defeated H.S. Shanthavirappa Gowda of the Congress by a slender margin of 6,430 votes.

The resignation of former chief minister and BJP vice-president B.S. Yeddyurappa on winning from the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat necessitated the by-poll here in Malnad region, about 260 km from Bangalore.

The regional outfit Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) did not contest the by-polls.

The by-elections witnessed a record voter turnout in all three assembly segments, with 86 percent in Chikkodi, 72 percent in Shikaripura and 71 percent in Bellary.

In the April 17 Lok Sabha election in the state, of the 28 constituencies, BJP won 17, Congress nine and JD-S two.

In the 225-member assembly, including one nominated, Congress has 122 lawmakers, BJP 43, JD-S 40 and independents nine after elections were held May 5, 2013.

By winning two more seats Monday, the Congress strength has gone up to 124, though BJP retains same (43), as the Bellary seat was held by BSR, a regional outfit, floated by Sriramulu ahead of last year's assembly polls.

Meanwhile, Sriramulu accused the Congress of using muscle power and money power in wooing the electorate in Bellary to vote for its candidate (Gopalakrishna).

BJP's state unit president Prahlad Joshi told reporters: "We will analyse the losses in Bellary and Chikkodi at a meeting of our state leaders in Bangalore Wednesday and take steps to revive the party's fortunes."

Speaking to the media, a beaming Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: "Our victory in Bellary and Chikkodi demonstrates the maturity of the people as they are aware of the issues involved in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Our pro-people programmes and pro-poor welfare schemes have reposed faith in the electorate."

On the party's loss in Shikaripura, Siddaramaiah said the ruling party had given a tough fight to the BJP in Yeddyurappa's bastion for the first time, as its candidate (Gowda) lost by only 6,430 votes.

Commenting on the by-election results in Bihar, Siddaramaiah said if secular forces like the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RJD) unite, BJP could be defeated at the hustings.

"The by-poll results show that BJP is not a force to reckon with in all states, as a united secular front can defeat it (BJP), which is evident in Bihar," he said.

Of the 10 assembly seats in Bihar where bypolls were held Aug 21, RJD bagged three, JD-U two and Congress one, while BJP won only in four.

(Posted on 25-08-2014)

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