ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Karnataka Urban Local Polls

Setback for the BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party has suffered a setback with the defeats in the recently-held urban local body elections in Karnataka. While this has not decisively shifted the polity away from the Hindutva forces, it has certainly weakened them substantively and has seemingly halted their thus far inexorable rise.

This is a revised and substantially different version of an article on the same theme that has been published in Tehelka.

The results of the recently-held urban local body (ULB) elections in Karnataka indicate a decisive downturn for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which had seen an unstoppable rise in the recent decades in the state from a non-entity to a major opposition party and finally to the party in power. The BJP, which used every unethical means to come to power after facing a shortage of a few seats for a simple majority after the 2008 assembly election, had not lost a single election between 2008 and 2012. It was in the Udupi-Chikmagalur parliamentary by-election held in March 2012 that the BJP faced its first defeat after coming to power in 2008.

However, in the ULB elections held on 7 March this year for seven city corporations, 43 city municipal councils, 92 town municipal councils (TMCs) and 65 town panchayats, the BJP has suffered a humiliating defeat in almost all the regions and blocks. The Congress has emerged as the main gainer capturing 1,906 wards, a 300-seat gain over the tally in the previous ULB election held in 2007. During the previous polls, the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS)-BJP coalition government was in power and the BJP had won 1,180 seats out of 5,004 wards, which was its best performance ever in the local body elections. This time around, the tally has decreased to 905. While the loss of 275 seats is all too obvious, a closer study of BJP’s performance reveals how it has failed to forge a consolidated BJP voter base, if not a “Hindutva” base.

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