Congress humbles JDS in Karnataka bastion

Bangalore, Aug 24 (IANS) The ruling Congress in Karnataka Saturday won two Lok Sabha seats in the state for which bypolls were held Aug 21, humbling the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in its strongholds.

D.K. Suresh of the Congress defeated Anita Kumaraswamy of the JD-S in Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency by over 126,000 votes. In Mandya (about 80km from Bangalore), actor Ramya of the Congress beat C.S. Puttaraju of the JD-S by nearly 70,000 votes.

Anita is the daughter-in-law of JD-S president and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. She is married to H.D. Kumaraswamy, the J-DS state chief and former chief minister.

Shocked by the loss, Kumaraswamy announced he was resigning as state party chief and was also thinking of quitting as leader of opposition in the assembly.

Announcing the results, an election commission spokesperson said Suresh got over 575,000 votes to Anita's around 441,000. The Bangalore Rural constituency has over two million voters, of whom nearly 52 percent exercised their franchise.

Ramya polled over 480,000 votes while Puttaraju received 416,000. The constituency has around 1.6 million voters and saw over 58 percent turnout.

The votes were counted Saturday.

The JD-S, though backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), failed to retain the two seats it had won in 2009 - Bangalore Rural by Kumaraswamy and Mandya by N. Cheluvarayaswamy.

Both quit the Lok Sabha on getting elected to the Karnataka assembly in May, necessitating the bypolls.

The BJP withdrew its candidates from the fray to avoid what it called a "split in anti-Congress votes".

Though the winners will have less than a year's tenure in the Lok Sabha as general elections are due April-May next, the Congress and the JD-S had turned the bypolls into battle of prestige.

The Congress wanted to win the seats as the bypolls were the first to be held after the party returned to power on its own in May after nine years.

The party was keen to defeat the JD-S in its strongholds hoping to demoralise that party ahead of the general elections.

The JD-S sought to retain the seats as a loss would be a big blow to the Gowda family which has the final say in party matters.

A beaming Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bangalore: "I had said earlier the Congress will win both the seats. This is not just the defeat of JDS, but also of the BJP and the Karnataka Janata Party (led by former BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa)."

In New Delhi, Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, incharge of the party in Karnataka, used the victory to take a dig at the media.

He told reporters that the results would not have any bearing on the general elections. However, these show the media had a "negative image" of the Congress and now that should be corrected.

Though the JD-S and BJP have 40 seats each in the 225-member assembly that includes one nominated member, the JD-S is recognised as the official opposition party as it polled more votes than BJP in the May assembly elections.

The Congress had won 122 seats. The remaining seats are held by smaller parties and independents.

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