Congress won an emphatic victory in Karnataka polls on Saturday, pushing BJP out of power in the only southern state it ruled, and boosting its own prospects for the electoral battles ahead.
Congress has won 131 seats and is ahead on five more seats, comfortably crossing the halfway mark in the 224-member Karnataka assembly. Bharatiya Janata Party is poised to win 65 seats, having already won 61 seats and leading on four more.
JD(S)won 19 seats, independents have won two seats, while Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha won one seat each.
An incumbent government has not returned to power in Karnataka after a full term of five years since 1985.
In the 2018 assembly polls, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, Congress won 80 seats and JD(S) got 37 seats.
The Congress victory has come at a time when it is seeking momentum ahead of assembly polls later this year in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana and the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Congress over its victory in assembly polls. He appreciated the hard work of BJP workers and said that the party will serve Karnataka with even more vigour in the times to come
“Congratulations to the Congress Party for their victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls. My best wishes to them in fulfilling people’s aspirations,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
“I thank all those who have supported us in the Karnataka elections. I appreciate the hardwork of BJP Karyakartas. We shall serve Karnataka with even more vigour in the times to come,” he added.
The next task for the Congress is to choose a chief ministerial candidate with both state Congress chief DK Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah aspirants for the post.
Congress leader and former MP Rahul Gandhi hailed the party’s victory in Karnataka assembly polls and said that people of the state defeated the “politics of hate”.
Speaking to reporters at the Congress headquarters in the national capital, Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress stood with the poor.
“The poor defeated crony capitalists in Karnataka…We fought the elections with love…,” he said.
“I want to thank all the party leaders and workers in Karnataka. ‘Karnataka mein Nafrat ki bazaar band hui hai, Mohabbat ki dukaane khuli hai’. We fought on the issues of the poor. We did not fight this battle using hatred and wrong words. This will happen in every state,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi coined the ‘Nafrat ki bazaar band hui hai, Mohabbat ki dukaane khuli hai’ phrase “during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“Poor people defeated crony capitalists in Karnataka. We didn’t fight this battle using hatred…” he said.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called the party’s victory in Karnataka an outcome of the “collective work” of party leaders and workers and that the party would work towards consensus to choose its chief ministerial candidate.
Talking to reporters as the trends showed an emphatic Congress victory, Kharge said people of all communities voted for the Congress. He said the party will work towards fulfilling its election promises.
Kharge hails from Karnataka and the assembly election was crucial for him. His son Priyank Kharge won from Chittapur.
“I thank the people of Karnataka for giving a huge mandate to Congress. We will respect the mandate and uphold people’s belief in us. We will implement all the welfare schemes we have announced in our manifesto. I thank Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and also Sonia Gandhi who campaigned even when she wasn’t well,” Kharge said.
“People of all communities voted for us. Now, we have to go miles and fulfil the promises and guarantees we made to the public. This is a result of the collective work of our workers, from booth to state level. They worked under collective leadership,” he added.
Siddaramaiah said PM Modi had campaigned extensively in the state but it not did yield results for BJP.
He also talked about his own victory from Varuna.
“The people of the Varuna constituency have given a befitting reply. This is a stepping stone for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Shivakumar talked about his own struggle and said the party had worked hard to achieve victory.
“I can’t forget Sonia Gandhi visiting me in jail…when BJP people put me in jail,” said an emotional Shivakumar.
“I credit my cadre and all my party leaders, they worked hard. People have posed faith in us, they supported us. It is collective leadership and we jointly worked…thinking together is progress, and working together is success”.
Shivakumar recalled his time in jail in 2019 in connection with an alleged money laundering case.
“I had promised Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and party president Mallikarjun Kharge that I will deliver the state. When these BJP people put me in jail, I remember Sonia Gandhi came to meet me there. Such is the faith the party, the Gandhi family and the whole country bestowed on me,” he said.
Accepting the verdict, senior BJP leader BS Yediyurappa said victory and defeat are not new for the party and it will introspect.
“Victory and defeat aren’t new to BJP. Party workers need not be panicked by these results. We will introspect about the party’s setback. I respectfully accept this verdict,” he said.
Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai had conceded defeat as trends showed a massive Congress surge.
He said BJP will emerge victorious in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Bommai won with a margin of 35,978 votes from Shiggaon constituency but many of his ministerial colleagues lost.
“…I take responsibility for this debacle. There are multiple reasons for this. We will find out all the reasons and strengthen the party once again for Parliament elections..,”he said.
Bommai said the party will make necessary corrections.
“We accept the verdict of the people of Karnataka with due respect. We will take this verdict in our stride. We will analyse and correct our fault lines and rebuild the party and come back during parliamentary elections,” he said.
The counting of votes began at 8 am amid tight security. The polling for the 224-member assembly seats was held on May 10 and the state recorded a voting percentage of 72. 68.
Congress’ performance beat the predictions of most pollsters. While many exit polls had said that Congress will be ahead, almost all of them could not accurately predict the scale of the party’s victory. (ANI)