Congress unseats BJP in Karnataka; DKS favourite for CM

Now all eyes are on the Congress Legislative Party meeting in Bengaluru on Sunday

| Updated: 13 May, 2023 3:15 pm IST
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar greets his supporters outside his residence in Bengaluru on Saturday.

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the crucial 2024 general elections, Congress received a major boost on Saturday by unseating the ruling BJP and securing a comfortable majority in the Karnataka Assembly elections, making it the only southern state to have ever had a BJP government.

According to Election Commission figures, as of 3 pm, the Grand Old Party has either won or is leading in 137 Assembly segments, while the BJP is at 62. Congress has officially been declared victorious on 41 seats, with the BJP on 18.

The Janata Dal (Secular), which won 37 seats in the previous state elections and was seen as a potential kingmaker, has suffered a significant setback, winning seven seats and leading in four others as the vote counting nears completion.

If Congress manages to maintain its position, which seems highly likely, it will form a majority government in the state without the support of any other political parties.

In the 224-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly, a political party needs a minimum of 113 seats to form a government.

Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has already conceded defeat and announced a detailed analysis of the results. “We have not been able to cross the mark. Once the results are out, we will conduct a detailed analysis. We will identify the gaps and deficiencies, reorganize the party, and come back for the Lok Sabha elections,” Bommai said.

All eyes are now on the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting scheduled to take place at 11 am in Bengaluru on Sunday. The party has asked its newly elected MLAs to reach Bengaluru early in the morning. Congress MLAs are expected to choose their leader in the presence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretaries Rajdeep Singh Surjewala and KC Venugopal.

Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah are the top contenders for the chief minister’s post, with Shivakumar currently appearing to have the upper hand.

As the results projected a clear majority for Congress, Shivakumar, overcome with joy and disbelief, broke into tears while speaking to the media. “I made a promise to my leaders (the Gandhis) that I will deliver Karnataka for you,” he told journalists at his residence, sending a direct message to the party high command. He also mentioned that he had not slept peacefully for three days since making that promise.

While emphasizing a collective victory, Shivakumar, sobbing, said, “I can’t forget how Sonia (Gandhi) Ji stood by me. She visited me in jail.”

Congress workers gathered outside Shivakumar’s residence and at the state party headquarters in Bengaluru, demanding that he be made the next chief minister.

Amidst the pomp and fervor of Congress, the poor performance of the closely watched heavyweight Jagadish Shettar in Hubbali-Dharwad Central stands out. Shettar, who became a highlight of these polls since switching from BJP to Congress, is trailing his saffron rival by over 35,000 votes.

The results have come as a shock to many. Exit polls aired on TV channels immediately after the May 10 voting predicted a hung Assembly. While most exit polls predicted more seats for Congress, none predicted a majority Congress government in Karnataka.

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