Victory in the just concluded polls to the Legislative Council appears to be a major shot in the arm for both the Congress and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. However, a closer analysis of the results shows the victory is not quite a straightforward one. In effect, it is icing without the cake.
On Sunday, 25 seats of local body constituencies went to polls and the results were out on Wednesday: Congress has won 13 seats, BJP 6, JD (S) 4 and independents 2.
While it might seem that the Congress has ‘won’ the elections by leaving both the BJP and the JD (S) far behind, a look at the overall numbers in the Upper House puts things in perspective.
Before the seats went to polls, the Congress had a strength of 28 in the Upper House, while the BJP had 30 and JD(S) 12. With the final tally, these are the numbers in a house of 75: Congress (29), BJP (30), JD (S) 11 and independents (5). If the change is hard to spot, it is because just the JD(S) lost one seat, and the Congress won just one.
By its own internal estimates, the Congress had hoped to win 15 seats so that it would have more control over the proceedings in the Upper House. Inadequate numbers had made it difficult for the Congress to push through its agenda. As things stand, the Congress practically finds itself back to square one.
One victory however, was that it managed to win the Hassan seat, long considered a JD(S) bastion. This is not a victory that can be dismissed easily as it is elected representatives of local bodies who are sending their representatives to the Upper House, and is an indicator of which way the grassroots swing.
JD (S) tie-up
Ahead of the elections, the JD (S) and Congress were contemplating a tie-up in order to keep the BJP out of the power. However, on account of internal confusion because of a family argument between JD (S) chief HD Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy, the second tier of leadership in the party suffered some embarrassment.
As a result, there was no tie up and going by preliminary figures, in several constituencies, although the BJP won, both Congress and JD (S) polled a large number of votes, indicating that had there been a tie up, the two parties could have posed a serious challenge to the BJP.
On December 22, BJP leader KS Eswarappa had in Kolar issued a challenge to the Congress. He said that if the Congress “won even one seat more than the BJP, I will give up politics”.
Now naturally, he is singing a different tune. Asked about this remark by journalists, Eshwarappa now says “The Congress never took up challenge”.