Despite losing nine Lok Sabha seats and seeing its winning margins fall in 13 seats, the Karnataka BJP has lost only 1.41 percent of votes, compared with its performance in the 2019 polls.

For the ruling Congress, the vote share has increased to 56 per cent but its government’s guarantee schemes, promised in the run-up to last year’s Assembly polls, did not work as well as the party had anticipated they would.

While the Congress managed to win only one seat in 2019, the BJP set a record by bagging 25 of the 28 seats and also had the support of Sumalatha Ambareesh, the independent who won the Mandya seat.

The Congress has increased its tally to nine seats and reduced the BJP’s to 17. In 2019 the party secured 1,12,03,016 votes and this time it polled 1,75,54,381 votes—an increase of 63,51,365 votes.

For the BJP, compared with the 2019 elections, there was a dip of 2,55,755 votes. In 13 of the 19 seats it won, the party’s margin has decreased from the 2019 levels, including in many of its strongholds in coastal Karnataka. For instance, former BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel beat the Congress’s Mithun Rai by 2,74,621 votes in Dakshina Kannada in 2019. This time, after the BJP replaced Kateel with Capt. Brijesh Chowta, the victory margin is 1,49,208.

Festive offer

However, the saffron party has gained more votes in Mysuru, Bengaluru South, Bangalore North, Shivamogga and Tumakuru.

Many reasons for the poor show

State BJP spokesperson MG Mahesh attributed the setbacks to various factors, including the selection of candidates. “We could have selected better candidates in a few of the constituencies. It could have worked for us. The Congress has got five seats in the Kalyana Karnataka region, which we ignored, especially the Lingayat community there. The Congress campaign on the Constitution was not countered properly in Karnataka, which has also impacted the results,” he said.

However, Mahesh said the Congress government’s guarantee schemes had not made any impact in the Lok Sabha elections. “The guarantee schemes have not made any difference, if you look at detailed data. Women have voted for the BJP in good numbers. While the winning margins may have reduced, the BJP’s total votes have not seen a major fall. It shows that the BJP has a lot of potential in the days to come,” he said.

BS Shivanna, a former Congress general secretary, opined that women’s votes did not swing towards the ruling party. “We were expecting 15 seats but we believe that guarantee schemes did not provide the votes we targeted. This also shows that it is still a male-dominated society where the man dictates whom to vote for. The best example is Mandya, where (HD) Kumaraswamy won with a margin of 2.84 lakh votes,” he said.

Highest winning margin in Uttara Kannada

The Election Commission’s data shows that former speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, who had replaced Anant Kumar Hegde after the latter was denied the BJP ticket, is the winner with the largest margin in the state. He polled 3,37,428 votes more than his nearest rival, former Congress MLA Anjali Nimbalkar, who secured 4,45,067 votes. With this sixth win, the Uttara Kannada constituency has reinforced its status as a BJP stronghold.

Anant Kumar Hegde won in 2019 with a margin of 4,79,649 votes. While there was speculation that the BJP might suffer a backlash for dropping Hegde, who also stayed away from the election campaign, Kageri won, though with a smaller margin than the former.

“Our party is not based on any individual. It is based on ideology and voters have stood with the party,” Kageri said after winning the election.

The lowest margin

In an old political battle between families, two women debutantes were in the fray in Davangere this time as former Union minister GM Siddeshwara’s wife Gayithri Siddeshwara contested on a BJP ticket against Congress minister SS Mallikarjun’s wife Prabha Mallikarjun. Prabha tasted victory with a margin of 26,094. GB Vinay Kumar, a ticket aspirant from the Congress, contested as a rebel candidate and bagged 42,907 votes.

“It became a close contest because of Vinay Kumar. Otherwise Prabha Mallikarjun would have won with a healthy margin,” said a local Congress leader.

The JD(S), which had an alliance with the BJP, secured only 21,63,203 votes; last time it polled 33,97,229 votes. Former chief minister and JD(S)-BJP alliance candidate Kumaraswamy managed to defeat the Congress’s Venkataramane Gowda alias Star Chandru in Mandya by 2,84,620 votes.