In a big blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance has won bypolls on four seats out of five in Karnataka, including two Assembly seats and three Lok Sabha constituencies. The Lok Sabha bypolls were held on Ballari, Mandya and Shivamogga seats, while two Assembly bypolls were held on Ramanagara and Jamkhandi. Of all five seats, the Saffron party faced the biggest defeat on its bastion in Ballari, where Congress' VS Ugrappa defeated BJP's J Shantha by a margin of 2,43,161 votes.
The Congress victory from the seat is significant as the BJP has been winning the seat since 2004, and is believed to be its stronghold since the days of the mining barons, the Reddy brothers. The seat was vacated after the BJP's B Sriramulu resigned as the Member of Parliament this year. From Mandya in the Vokkaliga belt in the old Mysuru region, JD(S)'s Shivarame Gowda established victory against the BJP's Siddaramaiah. The Congress-JD (S) alliance also won on Ramanagara and Jamkhandi Assembly seats, leaving the BJP with just one Lok Sabha seat, Shivammoga, to save its face. Its candidate BY Raghavendra was leading the race from the constituency.
From the Ramanagara assembly seat, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha Kumaraswamy established a huge lead of 71,613 votes over BJP's L Chandrashekar, who pulled out of the contest but officially still remains the party candidate. Chandrashekhar had joined the BJP ahead of the polls but returned to the Congress weeks later, leaving the saffron party red-faced. Of the three Lok Sabha seats that went to the by-polls, BJP had earlier held Shivamogga and Ballari and JD(S) Mandya.
In the Jamkhandi Assembly Segment in north Karnataka, Congress candidate Anand Nyamgouda won against BJP's Srikant Kulkarni, riding on a sympathy wave following his father and sitting MLA Siddu Nyamagoudas' death in a road accident.
Meanwhile, the Congress party was quick to celebrate the alliance victory in the state. Former finance minister P Chidambaram hailed the Congress-JD (U) coalition and said the bypoll results looked like a Test series win under Virat Kohli. Congress leader and state minister, DK Shivakumar, thanked the people of Karnataka for blessing Congress party with this record victory. "These by-elections have set the tone for Congress-JD(S) alliance winning 20+ seats in the 2019 Loksabha Election," he tweeted. The Congress party also tweeted from its official handle, saying that the Congress-JD(S) alliance victory "is just a teaser for what is in store for the BJP next year".
(Edited by Manoj Sharma; with inputs from PTI)
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