[Live Blog] Congress wins absolute majority in Karnataka

05:39 pm – Meanwhile, the Congress has crossed the finish line in Karnataka. With 20 seats left to declare, it now has 113 seats and leads in eight more. The JD(S) and BJP both have totals of 40 seats. There will be no kingmaker; the Congress will rule on its own. Who the CM will be is still unclear, as the candidates say the High Command will decide, while the High Command says the legislators will do so. It’s been a pleasure bringing the results to you. Thanks for reading.
05:34 pm – Another major debacle for the BJP has been in coastal Karnataka, where it held eight of the 12 seats in the districts of Dakshin Kannada and Udupi. It’s gained one and lost seven seats to finish on two seats, both won with margins of less than 5,000 votes. In Shimoga district, another stronghold where it held five of the seven seats, it has been wiped out. Moreover, it didn’t finish second in any of those seats, coming third in two, fourth in four and fifth in the last seat. Both these regions have been the epicentre of what Rana Ayyub calls the party’s “Hindutva Lab 2.0” in this article. Tehelka’s Imran Khan and G Vishnu exposed the BJP’s Hindutva strategy in this scathing piece.

THE IMPUNITY with which these groups operate also stems from the political backing they seem to have got over the years. In August 2007, the then deputy home minister BS Yeddyurappa dropped as many as 51 cases against Sangh Parivar activists, including Shri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik. According to media reports dated 28 January 2009 (four days after the infamous pub attack case), the state Cabinet withdrew more than 42 cases registered against Muthalik.

In an interview with G Vishnu, political analyst Shiv Sunder discusses the reasons for the BJP’s drubbing in these areas.
04:38 pm – The Congress has officially won 100 seats now.
04:24 pm – So the tally so far, with 173 seats declared:
Congress: Won 95, Leads 27, Total 122
JD(S): Won 32, Leads 9, Total 41
BJP: Won 28, Leads 11, Total 39
KJP: Won 4, Leads 1, Total 5
Others: Won 14, Leads 2, Total 16
The KJP is second in 37 seats, so they can take heart from their maiden performance.
04:00 pm – The Supreme Court’s stern remarks on the CBI have cast a dampener on the Congress, especially since a large part of their reading of their verdict has been that it is one against corruption. Another interesting facet of the election result is that the effect of the KJP on the BJP’s tally has been overstated. In Bombay-Karnataka, its tally fell from 33 to 13, and it lost 25 seats, while gaining five. Of the 25 seats it lost, the combined tally of the BJP and KJP exceeds the winner’s in only seven seats. And in most of these,  the combined party would still have struggled to win. Statewide, the vote shares of the two parties comes to 23 percent, a full 19 percentage points below the Congress. This has been a rout, and not only because of Yeddyurappa’s exit.
02:36 pm – This was inevitable.

02:33 pm – The Others, who stand at 21 seats right now, includes one member of the Samajwadi Party. “What?!”, you might respond. “When did Karnataka get so many Yadavs?” a colleague asked. Turns out, the winning candidate, CP Yogeshwara, was actually a 15-year incumbent, who had joined the party after leaving the BJP. He beat Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of JD(S) president HD Kumaraswamy, by 16,500 votes. 02:12 pm – Of course, there’s also the little matter of the Supreme Court’s order on Coalgate, which is due out soon. Just kidding, it’s pretty big, and could conceivably lead to the Prime Minister being asked to resign. Tehelka will bring you the latest. Read our cover story on the issue. 02:01 pm – The latest tally has the Congress at 119, JD(S) at 41 and the BJP at 39. But the big news that is going to overshadow, at least among the Bengaluru youth, this “most important day in our political history in the last five years”, as Arnab calls this Wednesday, is that Alex Ferguson has retired today as manager of Manchester United. Woah. He wasn’t even as old as Manmohan Singh. 01:30 pm – Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily has endorsed current Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah for the CM’s post, and denied that he wants the job himself. Of course, he goes on to say that he never asked for his current job either, that it was handed to him in the interest of the nation. Sonia Gandhi has said that the legislators will decide the next chief minister. PM Manmohan Singh says the victory is a victory against corruption. 01:09 pm – The KJP is currently leading in eight seats and second in 35. In three of those seats, it trails the Congress candidates by less than 100 votes. In Tarikere, DS Suresh (KJP) trails GH Srinivasa (INC) by 15 votes. Overall, the BJP and JD(S) are now tied at 40 seats, while the Congress has gone up to 116. Rajdeep Sardesai is rightly smug about getting it right with his exit poll. 12:44 pm – Sorry Dhananjaya Kumar, even the EC website is giving a majority to the Congress. It gives the Congress 113 wins and leads, the JD(S) 39, the BJP 42 and Others 24. That’s mostly settled, then. The CM stakes are now open, and that is a question unlikely to be settled soon. From Ashok Malik’s preview:

ON 8 MAY, on its part, the Congress could be contemplating quite a different sort of puzzle: deciding on a chief minister. As Shastri puts it wryly, “Legally 34 people can become Cabinet ministers in Karnataka. And the Congress has more than 34 chief ministerial candidates.”

12: 23 pm –

12:22 pm – So who will be the next CM?


12:15 pm – Current leads, as per the EC: Congress 106, JD(S) 42, BJP 35, KJP 11, Others 17. Counting’s going a little slow, because the counting machines have had issues.
12:04 pm – Even though the BJP is losing its stronghold of Dakshin Kannada, Tehelka’s Imran Khan says Hindutva might not be dead yet.

Also, here’s the full interview with the KJP’s Dhananjaya Kumar.
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11:53 am – Padmaraj Dandavati, Executive Editor of the Kannada daily Prajavani talks to Tehelka’s G Vishnu about the elections. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about Kannada politics but were too afraid to ask. Take a listen.
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11:47 am – Meanwhile, Parliament has been adjourned sine die.
11:43 am – Here’s Tehelka’s full coverage of the Karnataka elections, for your reading pleasure as the lunch break beckons (we’re still waiting for breakfast from the Kannada restaurant around the corner, but they’re probably glued to the television screens as well). On Twitter, S Irfan Habib is cautioning the Congress against overcelebrating.

Actually, the Karnataka elections are an indicator for the general elections. In the last three elections, the single largest party has gone on to lose in the national polls.
11:30 am – You know, there might be something to what Dhananjaya Kumar is saying. The networks are projecting 115-odd seats for the Congress, with ~35 for the BJP and ~40 for the JD(S). The Election Commission gives 37 to the BJP and 41 to the JD(S), but only 97 to the Congress. Could the news channels be overestimating the Congress’ tally? Stay tuned to find out. (Worst. Cliffhanger. Ever.)
11:24 am – KJP spokesperson Dhananjaya Kumar tells Tehelka, “The Congress is not going to do as well as being predicted. We are looking at reaching 20 seats. The Congress should be wise; we will be the kingmakers.” Hmm. As Ravi Shastri would say, is there a twist in the tale?
11:20 am – Third Front? What Third Front? Kumaraswamy says he cares only about Karnataka politics.
11:17 am – HD Kumaraswamy, former CM and JD(S) chief, says he is neither a king nor a kingmaker, that it is up to the people to decide. He says his party will be content sitting in opposition.
11:13 am – The EC’s tally as it stands: the Congress has 97 leads, JD(S) 40, BJP 35, Others 30.
11:10 am – Everyone predicted that the KJP would play spoiler to the BJP, and it’s coming true. The Congress is leading among seats with a sizeable Lingayat population, as the KJP-BJP contest fragments their votes. Even in coastal Karnataka, the RSS bastion, the Congress is romping home. This is getting ugly for the BJP.
11:03 am – After network issues and a frantic change of computer, we’re back. The networks are saying that the Congress has crossed the halfway mark in leads. As for the chief ministerial candidates, Pradesh Congress chief G Parameshwara is trailing in Koratagere by 1500 votes.
10:33 am – The first actual result is coming in. Shakuntala Devi (INC) has won Puttur. The seat is a bellwether for the Mangalore region, an RSS bastion. Could the BJP be losing its ‘communal lab’ as well?
10:23 am – As Arnab hyperventilates about how he’s never seen an election where the ruling party loses the seats that lean towards it (Seriously? He’s never seen an election with a substantial anti-incumbency swing?), we change channels to CNN-IBN for some R&R for our eyes and ears. It’s practically soothing.

Click to read : Exclusive: C-Voter Survey

10:09 am – Arnab and Co have been relentlessly trying to push what they call The Bansal Effect. No, it’s not the high percentage of Bangalore engineers who took IITJEE classes at Bansal Classes in Kota, but the Congress losing a few seats due to the Pawan Bansal corruption scandal, which the networks unimaginatively called Bribegate, before changing to the slightly better Railgate. Cho Ramaswamy’s not buying it; he says voters made up their minds much before the story broke, and that the vote is primarily an anti-BJP one. Lead update: Congress 69, JD(S) 36, BJP 25, Others 20.
10:01 am – The JD(S) has been the surprise today. They were expected to be consigned to third place, but they’re ahead of the BJP by 30 to 24. The Congress continues to lead in 61, with 132 seats reporting.
09:54 am – Abhishek Manu Singhvi is almost sulking when he says the JD(S) is always stealing their seats. There, there. There’s always Yeddy to do the same for the BJP.
09:52 am – The EC now has 111 seats, half of the 223 seats being counted. The Congress is leading in 53, BJP in 19 and the JD(S) in 24.
09:47 am – The BJP’s Siddharth Nath Singh is already changing the subject, saying that the Congress’ optimism will soon disappear once the Supreme Court’s Coalgate verdict comes in later. General shouting ensues. Meanwhile, reputed political analyst Kamaal R Khan weighs in:

09:40 am – Lead updates from the EC website: Cong 45, BJP 16, JD(S) 19, Others 15.
09:31 am – FIREWALL BREACH! No, the Tehelka website isn’t being attacked by angry trolls (at least, not yet). It’s Arnab’s latest gimmick after the spectrum last time around. The BJP is being trounced in its bastions, it seems. Not really, but the Congress is eating into its seats in the Lingayat-majority Bombay Karnataka region. Jagadish Shettar, meanwhile, tells Tehelka, “These are early trends. I will only be able to comment when the results are out.” Alrighty, then.
09:21 am – Ok, the EC’s website is finally getting up and smelling the coffee, so I’m going to be relying on their eminently reliable numbers. It’s behind the Times, but so are all of us. With 52 seats reporting leads, the BJP leads in eight, the Congress in 22, the JD(S) in 14 and others in eight.
09:10 am – You know it’s a special day when they give us lowly live-bloggers coffee instead of the usual milky tea. Lead update: Congress 43, BJP 26, JD(S) 15, KJP 3.
09:08 am – Meanwhile on Twitter…

09:03 am – As Arnab sagely puts it, though, the BJP is leading in BJP strongholds, while the Congress’ leads come from across the state. Politics in Karnataka is essentially regional.
09:00 am – If you’re curious about where we’re getting our numbers from, we’ve got Arnab Goswami jumping around a large map on the big TV, but will eventually shift to the official Election Commission website once their numbers start coming in. Times Now is giving the Cong 31 leads, the BJP 22, the JD(S) 12 and the KJP only two.
08:52 am – BS Yeddyurappa was instrumental in bringing the BJP to power in a southern state for the first time. Today, he is likely to hamstring that very party by playing spoiler in the Lingayat-majority seats of Bombay Karnataka. Ashok Malik, in his excellent preview (read it here if you haven’t already), says the BJP’s losses are most likely going to be concentrated in these areas.
08:47 am – So what do the exit polls say about Karnataka? Well, they all said that the Congress would reach the finishing line of 112. CVoter gave 114 to the Congress, 55 to the BJP, 34 to the JD(S) and 11 to Yeddy’s KJP. CNN IBN-The Week’s exit poll said the Congress would win 110 to 116, while the BJP and JD(S) would get 43 to 53 each.
08:31 – Congress CM aspirant Siddaramaiah leads in Varuna
08:30 am -Congress leads in 4 seats,  BJP leads in 3,  the JD(S) leads in 3 seat while the KJP leads in 2 seats
08:25 am -Congress leads in 4 seats,  BJP leads in 2,  the JD(S) leads in 3 seat while the KJP leads in 2 seats
08:23 am -Congress leads in 3 seats,  BJP leads in 2 seats while the JD(S) leads in 3 seats
08:19 am -Congress leads in 2 seats,  BJP leads in 1 while the JD(S) leads in 1 seat. Of the 4 seats for which leads are in, BJP won 3 of these seats in the last Assembly election.
08:17 am – Early leads emerge from Karnataka. Congress leads in 2 seats while BJP leads in 1 seat
08:12 am – Last year, a survey conducted by a local media house in Karnataka gave the Congress as much as 40 percent of the popular vote. In December 2012, local media outlets Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha commissioned an opinion poll that gave the Congress 37 percent of the vote and 115 seats. An opinion poll published in TEHELKA on 9 February said the Congress was likely to win 37 percent of the vote and get 133 seats. The BJP, on the other hand, would stop at 28 percent of the popular vote and come down to 63 seats. | Read Ashok Malik’s article on the politics in Karnataka
08:07 am – The counting of votes has begun across Karnataka. This is one of the most anticipated elections before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections