BJP Sweeps Karnataka Bypolls, Congress "Accepts Defeat": 10 Points

BJP Sweeps Karnataka Bypolls, Congress

Karnataka bypoll results: Counting is taking place under heavy security

Bengaluru: Karnataka's ruling BJP looked set to retain power as it headed for a sweep in bypolls, leading in 12 of 15 seats, in a big win for Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's four-month-old government. The Congress conceded defeat and said voters had "accepted defectors". Bypolls were held on Thursday for 15 of 17 assembly seats left vacant by MLAs who resigned in July, causing the collapse of the Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) coalition and the BJP's takeover. The BJP has to win at least seven seats to claim a majority in the assembly, which will have 222 members after the bypolls. Two seats are still vacant. The BJP currently has 105 MLAs and the support of one independent candidate, while the Congress has 66 and the JDS 34.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:

  1. "We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat. I don't think we have to be disheartened," Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar said.

  2. Twelve of the 15 seats were previously held by the Congress and the remaining three by the JDS. Counting is taking place under heavy security. The government has imposed prohibitory orders and clamped down on activities that could disturb law and order.

  3. The election saw former allies Congress and JDS contest separately. Relations between the two, tenuous at best, broke down after their coalition crashed.

  4. However, in a move similar to that which the opposition managed in Maharashtra - where the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP formed an unlikely alternative front - the Congress and JDS may reunite like they did after the assembly elections last year, if they do have a chance to keep the BJP from power in Karnataka.

  5. The Congress has declared its readiness to tie up with the JDS again, but the JDS is more circumspect, seeing itself in the role of kingmaker.

  6. The BJP is confident of winning 13 of the 15 seats on offer. Mr Yediyurappa told reporters: "We will complete our term. Even people have the same expectations from us". The opposition has declared that the BJP will be undone by its support of the MLAs who quit their coalition earlier this year in hugely controversial circumstances.

  7. After a dramatic stand-off that included a showdown at a Mumbai hotel, the MLAs who quit were disqualified by then-Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and barred from elections till 2023.

  8. However, the Supreme Court, while upholding the disqualification, said they could contest. The Congress's campaign slogan - Defeat The Disqualified - reflected that sentiment. The BJP has fielded 13 of the MLAs who quit, with the Chief Minister describing them as "future ministers".

  9. If the BJP does secure a majority then Mr Yediyurappa faces a difficult challenge - to keep his pre-poll promise he will need to accommodate MLAs who won their seats after quitting the Congress-JDS. Many party workers and leaders were unhappy at the decision to field the rebels. Some joined other parties and the son of a sitting BJP MP contested as an independent.

  10. Among the interesting seats are Hoskote, where the richest candidate, MTB Nagaraj is the BJP candidate. He was with the Congress earlier and assured that he would support the Congress-JDS, only to vanish and join other rebels in Mumbai. His main rival is the son of a BJP MP who contested as an independent after the BJP dropped him.