Bengaluru: Anti-incumbency, or a vote against an elected official currently in power, is being touted as the reason behind the bad showing of the Congress.

Anti-incumbency is a huge factor in Karnataka. Not since Ramakrishna Hegde’s government in 1985 has any party been re-elected to the Karnataka legislature.

The Congress was worried enough about the possible impact of the anti-incumbency factor in this year’s elections that party president Rahul Gandhi attended what the party called “street corner meetings" in at least 33 assembly constituencies, a party spokesperson said in response for an earlier story. Of these, the party won 20 seats in 2013, but only eight this time.

In a bid to stave off the threat of anti-incumbency, chief minister Siddaramaiah launched welfare schemes under the name ‘Bhagya’ (Luck in English). These schemes include the popular ‘Anna Bhagya’ (anna is rice in Kannada), which gives rice free of cost to families below the poverty line and Krishi Bhagya (Krishi is Kannada for agriculture) which aims to increase agricultural productivity through state-funded water management.

Siddaramaiah also cobbled together a broad coalition of the so-called lower castes, called Ahinda, a Kannada acronym for religious minorities and backward classes. He also approved the giving of minority religion status to the Lingayat community, in what some experts said was an attempt to undercut B.S. Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat leader who is BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.

“We will have to examine the reasons why we lost. But anti-incumbency is definitely a reason," said Brijesh Kalappa, a Congress spokesperson.

“There are trends which are contradictory to each other," B. Raghavendra Reddy, a political analyst. He said the trend has been of the state not electing the incumbent government to power. In the last 40 years, they also have a trend of not electing the same government to state and the centre.

“Tomorrow if the Congress and JD(S) form government, both trends will continue," he said.

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