The ruling Congress government suffered big losses in Karnataka as the counting of votes in the current assembly election indicated a saffron surge in the south Indian state. By Tuesday afternoon, it became likely that the BJP would form government in Karnataka, with the party leading in 106 of the 224 constituencies.
Meanwhile, Congress, which won 122 seats in the 2013 assembly election, was leading in only 74 seats. Crucial losses in key constituencies that were considered party bastions contributed to Congress' spiral. However, in a late afternoon twist, Congress announced its plans to form a coalition government with Janata Dal (Secular).
One of the big upsets for Congress was in the Gurmitkal constituency in the state's Yadgir district, where Janata Dal (Secular)'s Nagangouda Kandkur won with a comfortable margin of over 25,000 votes against Congress' Baburao Chinchansur. Congress had won the assembly seat in the last two state elections, and Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge had won the assembly constituency eight times in the past.
The party also stared at defeat in Shirahatti in the state's Gadag district. This is an important seat because it's considered a bellwether constituency. In the last dozen elections (state and central), it has always voted for a candidate from the winning party. Since May 2013, it has been held by Congress MLA Ramakrishna Doddamani, but on Tuesday, the 57-year-old veteran politician lost by around 30,000 votes to BJP's Ramappa Sobeppa Lamani. Lamani had lost the election in 2013 from the same constituency, only to regain it this time.
The party lost crucial votes in several constituencies in the deeply polarised belt of Dakshina Kannada, where BJP won in seven of the eight constituencies. The saffron party's candidates — Harish Poonja in Belthangady, Umanatha A Kotian in Moodabidri, Bharath Shetty in Mangalore City North, D Vedavyasa Kamath in Mangalore City South, Rajesh Naik in Bantval, and Sanjeeva Matandoor in Puttur — all won with comfortable margins. Only Mangalore constituency was won by Congress' Abdul Khader.
Update: This post has been updated after Congress announced its intention to form a coalition government with JD(S).
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