As Karnataka appeared to be headed for a hung Assembly on Tuesday, with the BJP set to emerge as the single largest party but falling short of a majority, the Congress sprang a surprise, declaring that it will back the JD(S) in forming the government.
Amidst all this commotion, key constituencies of Chamundeshwari, Varuna, Badami and Shikaripura kept politicos on edge with a high-voltage battle between heavyweights of Karnataka.
According to the data on Election Commission of India's website, JD(S) leader GT Deve Gowda from Chamundeshwari is set to return as MLA in the constituency as he won by 36,042 votes. As early trends favoured a win for Deve Gowda, he claimed that the people of Karnataka have "rejected" Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
JD(S) workers began celebrating outside Deve Gowda's residence as the counting of votes reached halfway. Gowda had left no stone unturned in Chamundeshwari, for it was not just any other seat but an ego tussle as he had said: "When you beat the sitting chief minister, it sends out a strong message."
All eyes were on Chamundeshwari from where Siddaramaiah — who is also contesting from Badami in Bagalkot — was seeking re-election in a keenly-fought electoral battle with Gowda.
Earlier, the chief minister had said he would win "easily" in Chamundeshwari, where he faced off against the popular Vokkaliga leader Gowda, India Today said. While the mood was tense in Chamundeshwari, in the neighbouring Varuna it was quite upbeat.
A look at the data of the previous election reveals the Congress has always had a consistent vote share of around 35-38 percent in Chamundeshwari. Though part of it went to Varuna after delimitation in 2008, in most elections, it is either Congress or Siddaramaiah as an Independent in 1983 and subsequently as a Janata or Congress candidate who triumphed.
Varuna witnessed a triangular contest between Siddaramaiah's son Yathindra representing the Congress, BJP's Thotadappa Basavaraju, and the Janata Dal (Secular) party' leader Abhishek S Manegar. With Yathindra's victory by a margin of 58,616 votes, the Siddaramaiah family retained the seat for the third time, after 2008 and 2013.
Earlier, on 12 May, Yathindra had said that the people of his constituency were happy with the Congress government and its developmental works, ANI reported. Varuna is a state Assembly constituency in the Mysore district and Southern Karnataka region of the state and is a part of the Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency.
Varuna was touted to be a contest between the first sons of Karnataka politics, Siddaramaiah’s son and Yeddyurappa’s son Vijayendra. However, the BJP's sudden decision not to field Vijayendra pulled the curtains on this big showdown. The INC had won the Varuna seat in the 2013 Karnataka Assembly election with a margin of 29,641 votes (18.45 percent) securing 52.53 percent of the total votes polled. In 2013, the seat witnessed a voter turnout of 82.43 percent, reported News 18.
BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa won Shikaripura seat by a margin of over 35,000 votes defeating Congress' Goni Malatesha. Yeddyurappa was "100 percent" sure of forming the next Karnataka government after 2008.
Yeddyurappa has been contesting from the constituency in Shivamoga district since 1983, having lost only once. He won the seat in 2013 as well— by 69,126 votes — against HS Shanthaveerappagowda of the Congress.
People of Shikaripura had earlier questioned the side-lining of Yeddyurappa with some saying that he has not visited his constituency in last five years.
There are a total of 1,84,956 voters in the constituency that includes general voters, NRI voters and service voters. Amongst the general voters, 93,923 are male, 90,958 female and 15 others. BJP won this seat in the 2013 Karnataka Assembly Elections with a margin of 24,425 votes (17.63 percent) securing 49.89 percent of the total votes polled.
In 2013, the seat witnessed a voter turnout of 80.24 percent. According to News 18, BJP won this seat in the 2008 Assembly Elections with a margin of 45,927 votes (36.43 percent) registering 66.22 percent of the votes polled. In 2018 elections this seat witnessed a voter turnout of 81.45 percent.
In a close race in Badami, Siddaramaiah defeated BJP strongman B Sriramulu by a margin of 1,696 votes. At the last moment, Siddaramaiah had chosen Badami as his second option after Chamundeshwari as he held several closed doors meetings with Dalit leaders, backward and linguistic groups. Badami has a significant presence of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes Muslims and other backward castes — the bedrock of Siddaramaiah's support base. Badami witnessed a close contest between the chief minister and BJP strongman B Sriramulu.
The BJP in Karnataka taunted Siddaramaiah on Twitter over his decision to contest in Badami saying,"It's now clear why Siddaramaiah wanted to contest from Badami. Badami was chosen as a safe option as Chamundeshwari was bound to go. Yet, you had the audacity to compare it with PM Modi choosing to contest from two seats. Hope you have learned humility now."
JD(S) candidate Hanamant Mavinmarad was, who had won the election in 2013, was way behind in the race with 24,004 votes. Earlier, speaking with PTI, he had said, "Both Siddaramaiah and Sriramulu are outsiders. I will win with a good margin," said Mavinamarada, exuding confidence.
With Sriramulu, a confidant of the resourceful and controversial Reddy brothers, joining the fray, the contest for Badami had become a big-ticket battle. For Sriramulu too, Badami was the second constituency he was contesting apart from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: May 15, 2018 17:29 PM