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Karnataka jinx works again (News Analysis)

National,Politics, Sat, 16 May 2009 IANS

Bangalore, May 16 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won 19 of the 28 seats in Karnataka Saturday, one more than its 2004 tally, but there was little to celebrate as the party's hopes of capturing power in New Delhi came a cropper. The Karnataka jinx, by which the party that wins more seats in the state loses at the centre, worked again.


The impressive performance, however, is a relief for the BJP as a good show by Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) would have been a threat to the stability of its first government in Karnataka and southern India. The government has a slender majority with 116 seats in the 225-member state assembly.



The Congress lost three seats, winning six against the nine it had in the 14th Lok Sabha. It had bagged eight in the 2004 polls and wrested one seat from the BJP in a by-poll caused by the death of the BJP member.



The Janata Dal-Secular was victorious in three seats, one more than it had won five years ago, but the dream of its leader and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda playing a national role as part of the Third Front crashed as the motley group of parties failed to stop the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) juggernaut.



Though the BJP had won 18 seats in 2004, its tally had been reduced to 16 as it lost one seat to the Congress in a by-poll and another member, S. Bangarappa, quit the party but retained the Shimoga seat on a Samajwadi Party ticket in a by-poll.



The BJP's first chief minister in Karnataka and south India, B.S. Yeddyurappa, is a much relieved man, though hugely disappointed at the party's failure to realise the dream of seeing L.K. Advani as prime minister.



Yeddyurappa's son B.Y. Raghavendra, contesting the Lok Sabha poll for the first time, comfortably defeated former chief minister, poll veteran and party-hopper S. Bangarappa in Shimoga.



Yeddyurappa had got the nomination for his 36-year-old business management graduate son against the wishes of several party veterans and a loss would have impacted on the stability of his government which completes one year in office later this month.



The Congress plan to bank on its veterans did not yield the result as former general secretary Margaret Alva and former central ministers C.K. Jaffer Sharief and B. Janardhana Poojary lost to the BJP nominees in Uttara Kannada, Bangalore North and Dakshina Kannada respectively.



Only two former chief ministers M. Veerappa Moily, recently in the news over his 'removal' as the Congress' chief spokesperson, and N. Dharam Singh won from Chikkaballapur and Bidar respectively.



Its young face Byre Gowda, who was nominated at the last minute to take on BJP veteran and general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar in the prestigious Bangalore South, also lost.



Deve Gowda retained his Hassan seat with the highest margin in the state, 291,113 votes, against the BJP's K.H. Hanume Gowda.



His personal score would not lessen the bitter disappointment at continuing to be marginalised both in state and national politics.



With the Congress-led UPA not needing the prop of many small parties to cross the halfway mark of 272 in the 545-member Lok Sabha, Gowda cannot even hope to get a central minister's berth for his son and former Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy who won from the Bangalore Rural constituency with a margin of 130,275 votes.



At the end of the day, the Karnataka jinx seems to be working for the third time in a row. Whichever party bags the highest number of Lok Sabha seats in the state has failed to capture power at New Delhi.



In 1999, Karnataka elected 18 Congress MPs only to see the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) returning to power at the centre. The BJP had won seven seats and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) three.



Five years later, the BJP won 18 seats in Karnataka, its highest ever, but the UPA beat the NDA in the numbers game and captured power at the centre. The Congress got eight seats and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) two.


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