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Karnataka paradox: Lotus resists UPA storm

Karnataka paradox: Lotus resists UPA storm

Author: ET Bureau
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: May 17, 2009
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Karnataka-paradox-Lotus-resists-UPA-storm/articleshow/4540907.cms

Karnataka defied the national mood yet again to give the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an overwhelming victory as the state ended up on the wrong side of the grouping for the third time in a row. The BJP added one seat to its tally of 18 in 2004, cementing its hold in its southern stronghold and enhancing the prestige of chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in the party.

"We have won despite a tacit understanding between the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress. The BJP now has a greater responsibility to serve Bangalore," he said, getting into election mode yet again as India's technology capital readies to choose representatives to the city corporation in a few weeks.

Mr Yeddyurappa said the performance of the party in Karnataka was below expectations - it saw itself winning at least 22 seats - but "satisfactory." The Congress tally fell by two to just six seats while the JD (S) won three seats, one more than in 2004. In 1999, when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance was elected to power at the Centre, Karnataka gave 18 seats to the Congress. In 2004, when the UPA formed a government in Delhi, the state sent 18 BJP representatives to parliament.

The three major power centres in the BJP - Mr Yeddyurappa, former Union minister H N Ananth Kumar and the Reddy brothers of Bellary - proved that their clout remained undiminished. Mr Yeddyurappa's 36-year-old son B Y Raghavendra trounced former chief minister S Bangarappa in Shimoga and Mr Ananth Kumar fended off a stiff challenge from the Congress' Krishna Byre Gowda in Bangalore South.

In Bellary, health minister B Sriramulu, a close associate of the Reddy mining barons, got his sister J Shantha elected by a slim margin against former Orissa high court chief justice N Y Hanumanthappa.

Like the rest of his party, Mr Ananth Kumar said he was disappointed that the BJP fared poorly nationwide but satisfied about the strong showing in Karnataka. And like the chief minister he immediately focussed his attention on the upcoming elections to the Bangalore city corporation. "We have won three seats in Bangalore, which is good augury for the corporation poll," he said. Former union minister C K Jaffer Sharief was defeated by D B Chandre Gowda in Bangalore North while H T Sangliana lost to P C Mohan in Bangalore Central.

"The BJP has not been long enough in power in Karnataka for incumbency to have affected it significantly. The victory is also a reflection of the unity that the party has been able to display," said political analyst Sandeep Shastri.

Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), who won easily in Bangalore Rural, claimed his party would have secured at least six seats but for what he called a "secret" understanding between the Congress and the BJP. The JD(S), he said, would be part of the meeting of the Third Front on Monday and decide its strategy after that.

Mr Kumaraswamy met Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week and there were suggestions that the JD(S) would extend support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). But with the UPA performing strongly on its own, the alliance can do without the backing of the JD(S).

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