Bangalore: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka suffered a setback as an alliance of the Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), thwarted its hopes of making gains in elections to the state legislative council.
Karnataka has a bicameral legislature; 224 members of the legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha or Lower House) are elected directly and 75 lawmakers are elected indirectly through an electoral college to the legislative council (Vidhan Parishad or Upper House).
One-third of the seats for the council are contested every two years after members retire after a six-year term. The Congress and the BJP had 28 members each in the upper chamber, the JD(S) had 13 members, four were independents, the Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), had one seat and another was vacant. Of the 25 outgoing members, 19 belonged to the Congress, four to the BJP, one to the JD(S) and one to the JD (U).
The BJP hoped to improve its tally with chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa claiming that the party would win at least 16 seats.
The party was keen to improve its numbers in the council to have a majority in both the chambers.
An electoral understanding between the Congress and the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda-led JD(S) has meant that the BJP has won only 10 seats, with the Congress winning an equal number. The JD(S) won five seats.
“We are very satisfied with our performance,” Yeddyurappa, however, said. “Except for Kodagu, Bangalore City and Chikmaglur, where we suffered some unexpected setback due to local factors, the BJP has performed creditably in spite of the understanding between the Congress and the JD(S).”
“The people of the state have sent a clear message to the BJP that they cannot win elections using money and muscle power,” JD(S) leader and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said. “The JD(S) would have won the five seats even if it didn’t have an understanding with the Congress. As witnessed in Bangalore Rural constituency, even in a three-way contest, we have prevailed, showing our strength.”
“While the Congress–JD(S) alliance has worked, we could have done better,” said D.K. Shiva Kumar, working president of the state unit of the Congress, “but, jointly, we have succeeded in preventing the BJP from getting a majority in the Upper House.”
“Since the Upper House is largely elected by an electoral college, one cannot read too much into the results as a reflection of the popular mood,” political analyst Sandeep Shastri said. “However, it is a wake-up call to the BJP. Because of its internal dissidence, it was not able to marshal its resources better as the number of seats it won is lower than what it even internally expected. The JD(S) has been the biggest beneficiary of the alliance with the Congress. But it remains to be seen whether the alliance will continue in a general election.”