Congress sweeps Karnataka, BJP shown door in South

BENGALURU — The Congress was striding forward with leads in 136 seats, while the BJP was ahead in 64 in Karnataka, according to Election Commission of India trends, as votes were counted on Saturday for an election widely seen as a litmus test for both parties ahead of the 2024 parliamentary polls.

The Congress was winning or leading in 136 of the 224 assembly seats in the state, comfortably over the magic number of 113, and the BJP in 64, according to the latest trends on the Election Commission website. The JD(S), which was hoping to be kingmaker, was leading in 20 seats.

With a much-needed victory tantalisingly close in the crucial southern state, celebrations broke out at the opposition Congress headquarters in Bengaluru and Delhi as party workers danced to drumbeats and burst firecrackers.

This is the victory of ‘Janata Janardhan’, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on the party’s performance in his home state. All our leaders have worked unitedly and people have voted for our guarantees, Kharge added.

It was a bitterly contested, often vitriolic election campaign punctuated by Bajrang Dal, Bajrang Bali, corruption and intense debates on the state government scrapping 4 per cent reservation for OBC Muslims and issues such as the hijab.

For the Congress, desperately looking to reverse its electoral fortunes and position itself as the main opposition player in 2024, this was the moment they had been waiting for.

The saffron outfit’s hold in south India is clearly on the wane. The DMK in Tamil Nadu, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, BRS in Telangana, the CPM-led LDF in Kerala and now the Congress in Karnataka, days away from forming a new government, have managed to keep the BJP off the political map in the south. — (Agencies)