Bengaluru: In a major setback for the BJP, the party suffered a massive defeat in its stronghold Ballari as results were declared today.
Congress’ VS Ugrappa had a grand victory after defeating BJP’s J Shantha by a margin of 2,43,161 votes.
The defeat is certainly a huge embarrassment for the BJP as the Ballari 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.
However, the BJP snatched the seat in 2004 and since then Ballari had stayed in its hold.
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the bypoll results are seen as a test for the JD(S)-Congress alliance and the BJP.
However, things do not seem to be in favour of the BJP. With the counting reaching the final stages, out of the by-elections in five seats, the BJP is only leading in Shivamogga.
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