Following its win in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and now in Jayanagar, Congress has increased its tally to 79 in the 224-member Karnataka assembly. Even though Congress had won 78 seats after the results were declared on May 15 following the state elections, its strength in the assembly was reduced to 77 after the death of its Jamkhandi MLA Siddu B Nyamagouda. Nyamagouda, who was on his way to Goa, died on May 28 after a truck rammed into his car near Tulasigeri.
The Congress-JD(S) alliance now commands a strength of 117 in the 223-member Karnataka assembly with the support of lone BSP MLA from Kollegala N Mahesh, comfortably placed ahead of the halfway mark. The HD Devegowda-led JD(S) has 37 MLAs. The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party after the Karnataka elections, has 104 MLAs along with the support of two independents.
Both the wins in RR Nagar and Jayanagar will come as a shot in the arm for the Grand Old Party after its poor showing in the state elections, where its tally reduced to 78 from 122 in the 2013 assembly elections. It will also reinforce its stature as the ‘big brother’ in its alliance with JD(S), which till now has had its way in the allocation of ministries and choosing plum portfolios for its ministers.
HD Kumaraswamy has taken charge of key portfolios such as Finance, Energy, Intelligence and Infrastructure development, while his elder brother H D Revanna has been given Public Works Department. With Congress leaving out seasoned politicians like M B Patil, H K Patil, Satish Jharkiholi and Ramalinga Reddy from the Cabinet, the dissatisfied MLAs have been holding meetings their supporters have also staged protests over the matter.
The Jayanagar poll, which was necessitated after the death of BJP MLA B N Vijayakumar last month, was the first election that the JD(S) and Congress fought together since they formed an alliance to take power following a fractured verdict. Congress’s Sowmya Reddy, the daughter of former minister Ramalinga Reddy, defeated BJP’s B N Prahlad by a margin of over 2,800 votes. Prahlad is the brother of Vijayakumar. “This is a collective victory of all the Congress party workers and the guidance of my father (Ramalinga Reddy),” Sowmya said after the results showed she polled 54,457 votes while her nearest rival managed 51,568 votes.
However, unlike in Jayanagar, Congress and JD(S) fielded separate candidates in the election to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly seat on May 28. Elections to the constituency were postponed after the Election Commission recovered nearly 10,000 voter IDs from an apartment. Here too, the Congress candidate, Munirathna won the seat, leaving JD(S) a distant third behind the BJP.