Karnataka By-Elections

By-elections were held in Karnataka’s districts of Shivamoga, Ballari, Ramanagaram, Jamkhandi and Mandya. The Congress-JDS alliance won 4 out of the 5 seats.

Background

Karnataka is a state in the southwestern region of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act. The capital and largest city is Bangalore.

The 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly election was held on 12th May 2018 in 222 constituencies of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The election led to a hung assembly, with the Bharatiya Janata Party emerging as the single largest party, with 104 seats, but failing to win a majority of seats and popular votes. The Indian National Congress won the popular vote. 

Analysis

On November 6, by-elections were held in Karnataka’s districts of Shivamoga, Ballari, Ramanagaram, Jamkhandi and Mandya.

The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance, formed after the Karnataka state polls earlier this year, posted huge victories in four of the five seats, reinforcing the strength of the combine.

The main opposition BJP won only one race, for the Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat, which was vacated by the party’s state president B.S. Yeddyurappa in favour of his son.

The largest loss for the BJP is Ballari, which the party has held since 2004. B. Sriramulu, a Valmiki tribal leader and part of the Reddy Brothers’ camp, had vacated the seat when he was elected from the Molkalmuru assembly constituency. His sister, V. Shantha, was up against Congress newcomer V.S. Ugrappa in the bypoll. Ugrappa, considered an outsider in Ballari, was backed by Congress heavyweights Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar. Ugrappa won by a margin of 2,43,161 votes – a washout for the BJP in its stronghold.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the victory over the BJP is likely to encourage the Congress to emulate the ‘Karnataka model’, partnering with regional rivals in key states for the general election next year.