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Karnataka by-polls: Congress-JD-S trounces BJP 4-1, coalition says ''will contest 2019 LS polls together''

Karnataka by-polls: Congress-JD-S trounces BJP 4-1, coalition says will contest 2019 LS polls together
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Bengaluru: In a Diwali gift ahead of 2019 general elections, the JD-S-Congress coalition on Tuesday worsted BJP 4-1 in the bye elections in Karnataka winning two Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies, while conceding the Shimoga parliamentary seat to the saffron party.

It was a resounding victory for the ruling coalition in just six months after the assembly elections which had returned a hung verdict forcing the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular to come together to form a coalition government.

Hailing the victory, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy called for opposition parties to unite under the leadership of Congress President Rahul Gandhi to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the next year's Lok Sabha elections as people were looking for an alternative.

While the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the Congress won the Mandya and Bellary Lok Sabha seats, they also bagged the Ramnagaram and Jamkhandi Assembly seats.

The Congress scored a major victory wresting the Bharatiya Janata Party citadel in Bellary (reserved) Lok Sabha seat, when its candidate V.S. Ugrappa defeated BJP's J. Shantha by a margin of 2,43,161 votes. Ugrappa polled 6,28,365 votes against 3,85,204 secured by Shantha, sister of BJP leader B. Sriramulu, a close associate of controversial Reddy brothers.

The bye election was held in the Lok Sabha constituency, which has been held by the BJP since 2004, after Sriramulu resigned from the seat following his election to the state Legislative Assembly from Molakalmuru in May.

Bellary was the Lok Sabha constituency where former Congress President Sonia Gandhi had defeated BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 general elections. Congress continued to win the seat till 2004, when the BJP wrested it and retained it till this bypoll.

It had pulled all stops during campaigning to ensure the victory for Shantha, who represented the constituency from 2009-14.

In the JD-S stronghold of Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, its candidate L. Shivarame Gowda won by a margin of 3,24,943 votes against 2,44,404 secured by BJP's Siddaramaiah.

The BJP only managed to win the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat where former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's son B.Y. Raghavendra polled 5,43,306 votes against 4,91,158 of JD-S nominee Madhu Bangarappa, the son of former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa. The victory margin was 52,148.

In the two assembly bypolls, the ruling alliance scored a resounding victory.

The prestigious Ramnagaram seat went to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha, who won on the JD-S ticket by a huge margin of 1,09,137 votes.

The 55-year-old Anitha defeated BJP's L. Chandrashekar, who had quit the BJP to rejoin the Congress ahead of the November 3 bypolls. His nomination, however, remained since the final date of withdrawal had passed.

In the Jamkhandi assembly seat, Congress candidate Anand Siddu Nyamagouda, son of former Union Minister Siddu Nyamagouda, defeated BJP's Shrikant Kulkarni by 39,480 votes. The seat had fallen vacant following the death of Nyamagouda senior.

With Tuesday's victory, the strength of the ruling coalition in the 224 member assembly goes up to 120.

Workers and supporters of the ruling alliance -- JD-S and Congress -- who contested the bye elections together, broke into celebrations across the party's offices in Ramanagara and Jamkhandi district, as well as in Bengaluru.

Around 66 per cent of the 54.5 lakh electorate had voted in the five bypolls on Saturday.

Buoyed by the victory in the bypolls, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao Tuesday asserted that they would contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections together against the BJP.

The two leaders gave credit for the electoral success to the policies of the Congress-JD(S) coalition, which bagged two Lok Sabha seats and two assembly segments in the by-elections held on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, Kumaraswamy hailed the people for their support to the coalition government of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress and said the two parties would contest the 2019 polls together in all the 28 constituencies in the state.

"We will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections together. As we did this time, we will sit together to chalk out strategies to fight the Lok Sabha election in a coordinated manner," Kumaraswamy said.

"We took many pro-people measures which are at the stage of implementation. The benefits have not reached them yet," the chief minister said.

However, people liked our policies, be it the crop loan waiver or financial aid to the street vendors, he said.

At a separate press conference, Rao said their sounding victory was an indication that the people of Karnataka had given their approval to the coalition government's policies.

"It has rejected the BJP, its divisive politics and dictatorial tendencies. We will contest the 2019 election together," he said.

Rao charged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with forgetting its duty as a responsible opposition.

"The power hungry BJP did not fulfil its responsibility of an opposition party. They set aside ethics and morality due to which they faced defeat at four places while its victory marginshrunk substantially in Shivamogga," Rao said.

Anitha Kumaraswamy, who won the election from the Ramanagara assembly constituency, gave credit for her victory to the tireless efforts of her chief minister husband Kumaraswamy, her father-in-law and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and Congress leaders.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah tweeted, "A meaningful celebration of Naraka Chaturdashi in Ballari. People's march from darkness to light. Wishing the people of Karnataka a happy Deepawali."

Tuesday happened to be Naraka Chaturdashi, a festival to mark the death of Narakasura, who was killed by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

Siddaramaiah tweeted further, "My thanks to the people of Ballari. People have cursed the inhuman behaviour of Janardhana Reddy."

In the run-up to the bypolls, Janardhana Reddy had kicked up a storm, saying that God cursed Siddarmaiah with the loss of his son for him (Reddy) languishing in jail for four years, though nothing incriminating was found from him.

Reddy was criticised not only by the Congress leaders, but also by the BJP, with its state chief B S Yeddyurappa even asking Reddy to apologise for his remarks.

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