Congress ended the 30-year dominance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by registering the first victory in the North-East Graduates constituency of Karnataka Legislative Council. Congress candidate Chandrashekhar B Patil beat his nearest rival K.B. Srinivas of BJP by a slender margin of 321 votes.
The counting of the votes polled in the election held on last Friday started on Tuesday morning at the Department of Mathematics in Gulbarga University and continued throughout the day and intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. The final results were out by till 5.20 am on Wednesday after several rounds of preferential votes were counted as none of the candidates could cross the halfway mark in the first preferential votes.
As the first of the four rounds of the first preferential vote counting was over by 5.30 pm Tuesday, as many as 13,997 votes had been counted and N. Pratap Reddy of Janata Dal (Secular) was leading with 5,017 votes over his nearest rival K.B. Srinivas of BJP who had secured 3,767 votes. Congress candidate Chandrashekhar B Patil was in third place with 2,124 votes.
When the second round of counting was over by 8 pm, 24,736 votes had been counted. Mr. Reddy, Mr. Srinivas and Mr. Patil had got 8,151, 7,883 and 5,718 votes respectively. Mr. Reddy’s lead margin was down from 1,250 in the first round to 268 in the second round.
At the end of the third round, Mr. Srinivas was leading by 590 votes over his nearest rival Mr. Reddy who had secured 11,078 votes. Mr. Patil was following them closely with 9,480 votes.
In the fourth and final round of counting of preferential votes also, Mr. Srinivas had 14,955 votes in his basket and maintained the lead of 650 votes over his Congress rival Mr. Patil (14,305 votes). JD(S) candidate Mr. Reddy who had 13,311 votes was pushed to third place. However, none of the candidates crossed the halfway mark and get the magic number of 24,414 to emerge victorious.
The winning formula was to get more than half of the valid votes excluding NOTA votes. There were 48,826 valid votes excluding NOTA votes against the total 55,471 votes polled.
Since no candidate in the top of the grid got to the finishing line in the first preferential votes, the process of eliminating the candidates from the bottom of the grid and distributing the preferential votes on their ballot papers among the respective candidates began just a few minutes after the midnight.
Unfortunately, even after eliminating 8 of the 10 candidates, including Mr. Reddy of JD(S) who was leading in the first two rounds, neither Mr. Srinivas nor Mr. Patil could touch the magic figure of 24,414. At the final tally, Mr. Patil of Congress had 18,768 votes in his account and Srinivas of BJP had 18,447 votes. Mr. Patil of Congress was declared a winner as he was leading by 321 votes.
Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Regional Commissioner and Election Officer of the constituency and Deputy Commissioner R. Venkatesh Kumar had camped in the counting centre till the process was completed on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to media soon after his victory, Mr. Patil attributed his success to his hard work and intensive poll campaign among the targeted voters. He thanked the voters and assured them of fulfilling his promises.
While the Hyderabad Karnataka region that includes six backward districts of the north-eastern part of the State – Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Ballari – has traditionally been a Congress stronghold as far as Assembly elections are concerned, it is a BJP bastion for Northeast Graduates’ Constituency of Legislative Council.
Though the Congress performance in the recently concluded Assembly polls in rest of the Karnataka was not satisfactory, it remained a force to reckon with in the region by bagging 21 of the total 40 seats – excluding Harapanahalli constituency that was carved out of Davanagere to be made a part of Ballari district ahead of elections for extension of benefits of Article 371(J) of the Constitution – leaving 15 seats for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 4 for Janata Dal (Secular). The scenario was almost similar or even better for it in the previous Assembly elections as well.
The picture is completely different when it comes to the polls of Northeast Graduates constituency of Legislative Council that has the same assembly segments. The constituency, which has spread across 41 constituencies – 40 constituencies in the six HK districts plus Harapanahalli – has been a BJP stronghold ever since it was formed in 1988.
The BJP, which was making efforts to gain grounds in the region had selected (late) Dr. M.R. Tanga, a surgeon, as its candidate in 1988. He consecutively won in the first three elections to lay a solid foundation for the party. The BJP dominance continued even when new faces were introduced in 2006 and after. Manohar Maski and Amarnath Patil representing the party were elected in 2006 and 2012 polls respectively.