BJP major winner in Karnataka district polls (Second Lead)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

BANGALORE - Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday emerged as a major winner in polls to the local governing councils but it suffered setbacks in the home turf of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and the powerful Reddy brothers.

Of the 30 zila (district) panchayats, the BJP bagged 12, Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) four each while in the remaining 10 it was a split verdict.

Of the 176 taluka (sub-district) panchayats, the BJP won 68, Congress 31 and JD-S 29 while no party emerged a clear winner in the remaining 48.

But for Yeddyurappa, whose continuance depends on the party’s show in these polls, it was a major setback as in his home district of Shimoga, the BJP barely managed to win the zila panchayat, bagging 16 of the 31 seats and conceding 13 to the Congress and two to the JD-S.

The Reddy brothers, who are mining barons and ministers, were in for a shock as the BJP failed to get a majority in the 36-member Bellary zila panchayat. The party won just 18 seats, with the Congress taking 17 and the JD-S one.

Of the brothers, the younger one G. Janardhana Reddy is the tourism minister and the elder G. Karunakara Reddy holds the revenue portfolio. The Reddys face charges of illegal iron ore mining and income tax evasion.

Yeddyurappa hailed his party’s show, though it fell short of the sweep that he and state BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa were predicting. Both had been confidently saying that their party would capture power in at least 20 of the 30 zila panchayats and over 100 of the 176 taluka panchayats.

“I thank the voters for their optimum support to the BJP,” Yeddyurappa, who led the party battling charges of nepotism in prime land allotment to his kin in and around Bangalore, told reporters.

“Earlier, the BJP was considered an urban-based party. These results have shown that the BJP has a huge rural base,” he said.

At a separate press meet, Eshwarappa said he was confident that the BJP would be in power in 14 of the 30 zila panchayats, 12 on its own and two with the help of Independents.

The Congress, though putting up a poor show compared to the 2005 zila panchayat and taluka panchayat polls when it was a clear winner, hailed its performance in Bellary and Shimoga.

State unit president G. Parameshwara and central labour minister Mallikharjun Kharge said the BJP’s show in the two districts considered its stronghold showed “people’s anger over corruption in the government”.

Over 65 percent of the around 21 million voters, nearly half of them women, cast their ballots in the elections to the 30 zila and 176 taluka panchayats Dec 26, Dec 31 and Jan 1.

The BJP, Congress and JD-S were locked in a three-way fight in a majority of the 1,013 zila and 3,659 taluka panchayat seats.

These are the first elections to the local governing councils after the BJP came to power in the state in May 2008.

Filed under: Politics

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