Bangalore: The Congress on Wednesday rode back to power in Karnataka after a gap of seven years, dethroning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which suffered mainly due to a split with ex-party strongman and former CM BS Yeddyurappa, whose party, the KJP ate into the BJP's vote share, resulting in the decimation of both and giving the Congress an easy path to power in the state.
Battered by a series of scams at the national stage, Congress put up an impressive show in the Assembly elections crossing the half-way mark of 113 seats in a House of 224, and going on to win a clear majority of 121 seats, obviating the need for crutches and belying predictions.
The huge victory set off a Chief Ministerial race into which OBC leader Siddaramaiah and Dalit leader and Central Minister Mallikarjun Kharge threw their hat.
Hit by the exit of Yeddyurappa and the image of corruption during its tenure in the first government in the south, the BJP won 40 seats. It had had won 110 seats five years ago. Similarly, the JD(S), which had 28 seats in the 2008 elections, has won 40 seats.
The Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), which ended as a spoiler for BJP, could not do much for itself, however, bagging only six seats.
The BSR-Congress, led by former BJP Minister Sriramulu, considered close to the Bellary brothers, also chipped away BJP votes and ended up with four seats.
CP Yogeeshwara, who quit the Jagadish Shettar government, towards the end of the tenure and contested on Samajwadi Party ticket, won from Channapata, defeating Anitha Kumaraswamy (JDS), wife of JD(S) state unit President HD Kumaraswamy, by nearly 6,500 votes.
Several heavyweights, including Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar (Hubli-Dharwad Central), Yeddyurappa (Shikharipura), Siddaramaiah (Varuna) and HD Kumaraswamy (Ramnagaram), won from their constituencies but state Congress chief GS Parameshwara (Koratagere), a Chief Minister contender, lost heavily. Kumaraswamy's wife Anita and Yeddyurappa's confidant Shobha Karandlaje suffered defeats from Channapatna and Rajaji Nagar respectively.
Twelve ministers of the Shettar Cabinet, including Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa, fell by the wayside, rubbing salt into the wounds of the vanquished BJP.
Polling was held in 223 segments, with the one in Periyapatna in Mysore district put off to May 28 following death of BJP candidate. BJP's performance in its own strongholds was pathetic, reflected in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi where its defeat was near complete as also in Yeddyurappa's home district of Shimoga and Bellary.
Eshwarappa's loss in Shimoga is all the more significant as he was a former state unit President of the party and also held the key portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and Revenue. He was in the "hit-list" of Yeddyurappa, who now had the "sweet revenge".
Another big gun to lose was Industries Minister Murugesh R Nirani, who spearheaded two global investors meet, and was in two minds till the last minute whether to join forces with the KJP but eventually continued to be in the BJP, in Bilgi. Congress candidate and former Union Civil Aviation Minister CM Ibrahim was pushed to third position in Bhadrawati.
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