Results of the crucial state-wide elections to urban local bodies in Karnataka will be announced on Monday as parties gear up for assembly elections in a month or two.
The urban local body elections, held on 7 March, are being contested by the three major parties in the state—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).
The results of the elections will also determine the strength of former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) after he left the BJP in December.
Yeddyurappa, who led the BJP to its first victory in southern India, was ousted from the chief minister’s post in 2011 after a report on illegal mining by the state’s anti-corruption ombudsman charged him with corruption. Yeddyurappa resigned from the party in December after he was not given the BJP’s state president post.
For the BJP, it’s performance as well as the performance of the KJP could determine whether defections from its party to the KJP would strengthen following the elections. While 13 state lawmakers have already joined the KJP, two ministers resigned last month.
The BJP is also in the midst of appointing a new state president and the results of the elections are expected to make a mark on it. Over the last four and a half years of rule, the state BJP has been dogged by several corruption scandals and has seen the resignation of seven ministers on corruption allegations.
S. Siddaramaiah of the Congress, who is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said there was a pro-Congress wave in the state and his party would reap the benefits in the local body elections. “Local body polls always favour the ruling party. But despite this, we expect the BJP to fare poorly due to all the scandals surrounding the government,” he said.
JD(S) state president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said he expects his party to win at four municipal corporations, including Mysore. “I have toured across the state and definitely see a swing towards the JD(S),” he said.
Polls were held for 208 urban local bodies, excluding Bangalore, that includes seven city corporations, 65 town municipal councils, and 93 town panchayats. According to the state election commission, the turnout was nearly 65% across the state.
Nearly 21,000 candidates are vying for seats in nearly 5,000 wards across the state. The Congress fielded candidates in 4,500 wards, followed by the BJP with 4,000 candidates and the JD(S) with 3,600. The KJP fielded 1,966 candidates, while BSR Congress, a party floated by former BJP minister B. Sriramulu, fielded 1,496 candidates.
In the last such exercise in 2007, the Congress won the largest number of seats, winning 1,606 wards, followed by the JD(S) with 1,502 wards and the BJP with 1,180. Elections to Bangalore’s municipal corporation are due only in 2015.
Assembly elections in Karnataka are expected to be held in late April or May, as the term of the BJP government is set to expire.