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Karnataka ULB Polls – Mixed Bag for BJP

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The BJP will take control of two key corporations – Belagavi and Hubballi, while the Congress should have Kalaburgi as the results of polls held in three ULBs are out. Though BJP has done well this time, Congress maintains its lead in the urban bodies’ race.

By SOURAV SHARMA


The results of the recently held urban local bodies’ polls are out and it’s a mixed bag of the Bhartiya Janata Party that rules the states. Congress, which was not expecting a favourable verdict is in ecstasy with the result. 

Many see the urban local bodies’ elections as the first key test of Basavaraj Bommai, the newly appointed chief minister of the state. The saffron party has got a clear majority in the Belagavi City Corporation. But the concern is that it fell short in Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation. This place was also in the news because of the personal presence of BJP stalwarts- Pralhad Joshi, the Union Minister and Jagadish Shettar, former Chief Minister. In the council of 82 members, BJP has mere 39 despite a great effort to win the corporation. Though they are in a better position to stake claim to power, the real worry for the party is that the Congress which was not really looking in the fight had increased its seats from 22 to 33. 

Two go to BJP; Congress retains Kalaburgi

This was the first time that local elections were held by the State Election Commission on the party symbols in Belagavi Municipal Corporation (BCC) and BJP has not just won the elections with absolute majority but has also defeated Congress and Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti decisively. Out of the total 58 seats in Belagavi, BJP secured 35 and its closest contestant was Congress that got just 10 seats. 

Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti has a control over the electoral politics of Belagavi but in this election the party has just been routed out from the municipal corporation. MES had been fighting polls on issues of language and border as the city has a considerable population of Marathi ethnicity. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a party led by Asaduddin Owaisi, has made an entry in this corporation too, just as it does in many muslim pockets in different regions of the country, by securing one seat

The chief minister himself hails from the Hubballi district and these three major cities lie in the north part of Karnataka. BJP has a strong foothold in this entire region and political pundits were seeing this election as a litmus test for Basavaraj Bommai. It was also to be assessed as to how the party will fare without their former leader and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

This election is an addition to the confidence of the Congress. Though BJP has increased its tally to 14 but the Congress has swept Kalaburgi Corporation. Kalaburgi is a stronghold of the Congress as it’s the home place of their senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge. 

Congress’ tally has improved in all three key urban local bodies. The party has also performed well in the by elections of assembly just months ago. But the grand old party has a headache in Karnataka too - the emergence of AIMIM. Owaisi’s party has not just secured one seat in Belagavi but also three seats in Hubballi. Though AIMIM has not opened its account in Kalaburagi but has definitely begun eating into the Congress vote share.

Congress Stays on Higher Pedestal  

The BJP may have secured two local bodies out of three in these elections but the Congress party stands on firmer ground than the saffron party. The reason lies in the fact that Congress has won seven out of ten ULBs in Karnataka just three months ago. Janata Dal (Secular) has won two and the BJP has secured just one. Overall, Congress won 119 seats, while BJP won only 56 and JD(S) 67. HD Kumaraswamy’s party got a clear majority in Channapatna and Vijayapura municipalities. 

The results were quite devastating for the saffron party. The only consolation for the party was that it had won Madikeri TMC by replacing the Congress-SDPI coalition. The BJP lost in Thirthahalli after 25 years while its effort to win in Bhadravati also failed to yield expected results. Congress is placed in both the ULBs. In the 34-member house in Bhadravathi City Municipal Council, the Congress won in 18 wards and in the 15-member Thirthahalli Town Panchayat it had a comfortable nine wards. 

Bhadravathi has been a debacle for both BJP and the JD(S). Even though several leaders campaigned in Bhadravathi, the BJP got just four wards. On the other hand, the JDS, which had won 23 seats under the leadership of late Appaji Gowda, this time secured only 11 seats in his absence.

BOX - Yeddi Not Done Yet?

Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who had to resign from his position just days back as he was way above the permissible age of 75 years of the Bhartiya Janata Party to hold a public office, is now making a turnaround in politics in his own flamboyant way. The Lingayat stalwart has just declared that he would take a tour of entire Karnataka after the auspicious Ganesha festival to achieve Mission 140 in the 2023 assembly polls. He said that he may also take State BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel and other leaders along. 

This has already raised the eyebrows of many in the party. When Yediyurappa held that there is room for anyone in the party and his doors are open for all, many in BJP have to ask that Yediyurappa should discuss his travel plans and the issues to be raised during the tour. Many in the party believe that he might use this opportunity to launch his son Vijayendra as new leader of Karnataka. Political pundits think that the tour is a means to enhance the charisma of Yediyurappa and make the BJP more dependent on him. It is also learnt that the high command has sternly asked Yediyurappa to refrain from taking unilateral decisions.

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