The results for 2019 general elections have been declared and BJP has returned to power with a thumping majority winning a historic 303 seats on its own and 353 seats along with their allies in the NDA. In Karnataka, where BJP had failed to form a government last year, general elections have been a huge success in defeating the Congress-JD(S) alliance. Coming with this defeat is the fall of tall leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress and HD Deve Gowda of the JD(S) which both lost from erstwhile strongholds of their respective parties.
Karnataka which saw Congress-JD(S) post-poll alliance taking over the government despite BJP getting the highest number of seats in the assembly elections last year, has been witnessing rising sentiment against this alliance of convenience between JD(S) and Congress. This sentiment clearly translated to a clean landslide in the favour of BJP, with the BJP winning on 25 parliamentary constituencies of the total 28 in the state. The Congress which had won on 9 seats in the last general elections saw itself getting reduced to just 1 seat in the state.
Out of these losses, the most significant is surely that of Gulbarga, which was earlier represented by senior Congress Leader Mallikarjun Kharge. BJP’s Dr. Umesh Jadhav conquered the Congress’ bastion with a comfortable margin of around a lakh votes. While Umesh Jadhav secured 6,20,192 votes, Mallikarjun Kharge got 5,24,740 votes, according to the Election Commission. Popularly known as “solillada Saradara”, (a leader without defeat), this was the first electoral loss in Mallikarjun Kharge’s political life spanning several decades. Mallikarjun Kharge had won 11 consecutive elections, 9 assembly and 2 parliamentary elections before losing to the BJP this general elections.
Dr. Umesh Jadhav, who quit Congress and joined BJP just before the LS poll dates were announced, holds significant sway over Lambani votes in the region coupled with B S Yeddyurappa’s call for Lingayat support and more significantly the PM Modi factor contributed to the fall of “solillada Saradara”.
Mallikarjun Kharge was fighting almost a lone battle after many senior Congress leaders deserted the party for BJP. Congress, which has a strong base in the district, was suddenly been facing a big void in terms of second-rung leaders. All those who left the party, including Dr. Jadhav, accused Mallikarjun Kharge of promoting his son, Priyank Kharge. BJP used the situation to its advantage. Issues in Gulbarga Lok Sabha and Chincholi assembly elections were almost the same.
Dr. Jadhav also a ministerial aspirant from Gulbarga, had quit in protest against Kharge’s son and Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge. He had accused him of interference and high-handedness. He had also blamed Kharge’s “blind love” for his son as the main reason for the decline of the Congress party in Hyderabad-Karnataka region. According to sources, the Congress was planning to induct Jadhav into the HDK cabinet in last December to quell the rebellion, but Mallikarjun Kharge vehemently opposed it.
Baburao Chinchansur, a former Congress minister who defected to the BJP last year, placed the blame for Kharge’s defeat on his son, Priyank.
“Kharge has done a lot of work for Gulbarga and Hyderabad – Karnataka region. He is popular and well respected. But, the entry of his son spoiled everything. To promote his son Kharge sidelined other seniors in the party. He made him a minister. Naturally it led to desertions from Congress. If he had not turned a blind eye to ground realities, Kharge would not have lost like this,” he said.
Taking note of huge electoral loses to the Congress in the states which it had won in the assembly elections is sure a worrying trend for the party. With Congress’ setback, BJP comes back to the picture with winning the Gulbarga LS seat second-time after 1998.
Following this trend, BJP was successful in repeating its stellar performance in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it had lost the mandate in the assembly polls last year. In Uttar Pradesh, where various ‘experts’ had speculated huge electoral loses for the BJP citing the new found friendship between erstwhile arch rivals SP and the BSP however the final number coming out of the state indicate the caste arithmetic on paper has failed to materialize on the ground into votes. This general election has witnessed Congress further losing ground to the BJP, given its dynastical nature, which surely is one of the reasons for the fall of Mallikarjun Kharge from Gulbarga.