The results of local body elections in Karnataka have given both the Congress and the BJP something to cheer about ahead of next month's bypolls. Of the 418 wards for which voting was held the Congress won 151, the BJP claimed 125 and the Janata Dal (Secular) won 63; 55 wards were won by independent candidates.
"Congress has emerged as the Number 1 party. I would like to thank the voters of local bodies in which the elections were held," party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said today.
The ruling BJP has done well in its stronghold of Mangaluru. The party took to social media to announce its victory.
"Under the leadership of President Nalin Kumar Kateel & Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, the BJP continues its victory march in urban local body elections. We sincerely thank voters for reposing their faith in us by giving 44 seats out of 60 in Mangaluru Corporation. Hearty congratulations to our candidates," the party said in its post.
14 of the remaining seats in the Mangaluru Corporation were claimed by the Congress.
Under the leadership of President @nalinkateel & CM @BSYBJP, BJP continues its victory march in Urban local body Elections.— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) November 14, 2019
Sincerely thank Voters for reposing their faith in us by giving 44 seats out of 60 in Mangaluru Corporation.
Hearty Congratulations to our Candidates. pic.twitter.com/nhHyRBQGiZ
Bypolls will be held on December 5 for 17 seats, including the 15 left vacant by former Congress and JDS MLAs whose resignations triggered the fall of the fragile coalition government. The two parties have grown apart since that controversial episode and will fight the bypolls separately.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court, while confirming that the MLAs who resigned stood disqualified, said it would permit them to stand for re-election. They had been barred from contesting polls till 2023 by then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.
The top court's judgement came as good news for the BJP, which has given tickets to several of those disqualified MLAs after they joined the party on the same day.
Upon joining the BJP the MLAs were praised by the Chief Minister for their "sacrifice".
"It is because of the sacrifice of these 17 Congress-JDS legislators and their resignation as MLAs, some even as ministers, that I have been able to take oath as Chief Minister," Mr Yediyurappa said on Thursday, welcoming the rebels into his party.
Mr Yediyurappa came under fire earlier this month after a leaked audio clip surfaced in which he can be heard saying BJP chief Amit Shah "made arrangements" for the rebel MLAs.
The BJP enjoys a wafer-slim majority in the Karnataka Assembly; it has the support of 106 MLAs in the 224-member house, while the Congress-JDS opposition has 101. This means the ruling party will need to win at least six of the 15 seats being contested to retain its majority.