BJP puts up brave face over Karnataka drubbing
Bangalore: Karnataka`s ruling BJP Monday put up a brave face over its rout in the urban local bodies polls held Thursday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was far behind the Congress by winning over 900 of the 4,900 seats of 207 urban local bodies.
The Congress bagged more than 1,900 seats. The Janata Dal-Secular was locked in a neck-and-neck race with BJP for the second place.
The BJP`s performance was worse than in 2007 when it won over 1,100 seats. At that time, the party was not ruling Karnataka.
A consolation for the party, perhaps, is that the JD-S too fared badly this time.
The Congress was the major gainer. In 2007, it won around 1,600 seats.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, leading the party in any election since taking office in July last year, told reporters here that the results were "satisfactory".
He pointed out that the results should be seen in the context of the infighting and formation of two rival outfits by two former BJP men.
One of the outfits, Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), is led by BJP`s first chief minister in the state, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit the party in November. Another is headed by B. Sriramulu, a former BJP minister and a close associate of jailed mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy.
Both parties failed to make any impact. KJP won only around 270 seats and Sriramulu`s party about 80.
However, Shettar`s predecessor D.V. Sadananda Gowda expessed shock over the rout and said the party had been taught a lesson for its squabbles.
The drubbing could not have come at a worse time for the BJP as it not only casts a shadow over its prospects of retaining power in the assembly elections due in May but complicates the ongoing efforts to find a new head for the Karnataka unit.
The party fared poorly in coastal Karnataka, considered its stronghold as well as in north Karnataka town of Dharwad, the home district of Shettar.
Three main contenders for the state BJP president`s post, to succeed K. S. Eshwarappa who quit Thursday, are from these two areas. They are Sadananda Gowda and Lok Sabha member Nalin Kumar Kateel from the coastal part and another Lok Sabha member Pralhad Joshi from Dharwad.
The Congress emerged a clear winner in the 60-member Mangalore City Corporation bagging 35 seats while BJP got 20 seas. The rest were taken by JD-S, Communist Party of India-Marxist and independents.
Mangalore is the main town in the coastal Karnataka.
In the 67-member Hubli-Dharwad city corporation, the BJP bagged 33 seats while the Congress took 22, the JD-S 9, KJP one and independents two.
Hubli and Dharwad are twin cities, 20 km apart. Dharwad is the administrative headquarters while Hubli is a major commercial centre.
The BJP also fared badly in Eshwarappa`s home district of Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore, coming fourth.
Shimoga is also political base of Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa gained the satisfaction of doing better than BJP in Shimoga as his KJP won 34 of the 176 seats for municipal bodies in the district.
The BJP was a poor fourth with just 24 seas while the Congress was a major winner with 64 seats followed by JD-S with 40 seats. The rest were taken by independents.
With such dismal performance in its strongholds as well as in areas where the state unit leaders hail from, the BJP is in a catch-22 situation in selecting a new state party chief.
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