Bengaluru: In a major setback for the BJP, the party is staring at a defeat in its stronghold Ballari as counting of votes for Karnataka bypolls began this morning.
Leading with a margin of over 2.14 lakh votes after 13 rounds of counting, Congress’ VS Ugrappa is heading for a grand victory against BJP’s J Shantha.
The defeat will certainly be a huge embarrassment for the BJP as the Ballari Lok Sabha seat has voted for the party since 2004 and is the stronghold of the mining barons, the Reddy brothers.
The by-elections in Ballari was necessitated after Sriramulu resigned as MP and contested successfully from the Molakalmuru Assembly segment in May.
BJP candidate J Shantha, a former parliamentarian and sister of Sriramulu, had previously won the seat in 2009. The BJP had hoped that Sriramulu’s influence in the region will pave the way for an easy victory.
The Ballari bypolls turned into a battle of prestige with the Congress-JD(S) alliance and BJP campaigning intensively in the region.
The ruling alliance, encouraged by its performance in the assembly elections where it won six of the eight assembly segments in Ballari, campaigned hard in the constituency which seems to have paid off.
"I would like to thank the people of Ballari. The inhumanity of Janardhana Reddy has been cursed by the people of Ballari," tweeted former chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Congress candidate VS Ugrappa, an outsider who hails from Mysuru, was strongly backed by Congress leaders Siddaramaiah as well as DK Shivakumar.
The Ballari fight was not just between the parties but also between the strategists of Congress and BJP, DK Shivakumar and Sriramulu, respectively. However, Siddaramaiah was asked to step in for the campaign for Ugrappa to infighting brewing between Shivakumar and the Jarkiholi brothers
Ugrappa is not the only Congress outsider to win the seat. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi had won the seat in 1999, defeating present External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
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