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BJP retains power in Bengaluru civic polls, setback for Congress

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Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained control of the 198-ward Bengaluru municipal corporation for a second successive term, winning 100 wards and relegating the state’s ruling Congress to the second place.

The victory gladdened Prime Minister Narendra Modi who thanked the voters of India’s IT capital for reposing continuous faith in his party and called it a hat-trick after similar wins in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan early this month.

“Thank you Bengaluru”, Modi tweeted.

According to the state election commission, the Congress won 76 wards, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 14 and Independents eight.

Polling was held in 197 wards, as BJP candidate Bharati Ramachandra was declared elected unopposed earlier from Hongasandra (ward 189) after nomination of Congress candidate K. Maheshwari was rejected on August 13 for submitting a fake caste certificate.

“This is a win for the politics of development and good governance,” Modi said in a series of tweets, even as counting was in progress.

Though the BJP retains the council, with a simple majority (100), it is 11 wards less than 111 it had in the 2010 election, which it had won for the first time under its own government (2008-2013).

Congress, however, gained 11 wards more than 65 it had last time, while JD-S won one less than 15 it had last time and the number of independents winning remained same – eight.

Of the 74-lakh electorate, over 36 lakh voted, registering 49.3 percent turnout, which is 5.3 percent more than 44 percent recorded in the 2010 election.

The century-old Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was expanded in 2007 by including seven city municipal councils and a town municipal council as well as 111 surrounding villages to increase the civic wards to 198 from 100.

With 50 percent of the wards reserved for women, political parties fielded wives or women relatives of former corporators in many wards. In all, 1,120 candidates contested.

The BJP and Congress had candidates in all wards, and the JD-S in 187. A slew of regional outfits, including the AIADMK were also in the fray.

BJP president Amit Shah and union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley followed the prime minister in praising the party’s success in the city civic elections.

Shah described the Bengaluru results as a “mandate against anti-poor, anti-development and negative politics of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi”.

Jaitley said the Congress needed to draw a lesson from the results.

Wild celebrations broke out in the city with hundreds of BJP cadres, supporters and its winners taking out victory rallies in their wards, bursting fire crackers, distributing sweets and thanking the electorate.

“This is a historic win for us. We will do our best to improve the city. We are indebted to the people of Bengaluru for reposing faith in our party and rejecting the Congress, which desperately tried to postpone the election many times and attempted to trifurcate the corporation against the wishes of the citizens,” jubilant former BJP deputy chief minister and the party’s city unit in-charge R. Ashoka told reporters.

Beleaguered Chief Minister Siddaramaiah admitted that the results were not on expected lines as he and his party was hoping to get at least a simple majority.

“We must accept the people’s mandate in a democracy. We will introspect the poll verdict though I own responsibility for the party’s defeat in the BBMP elections,” a crestfallen Siddaramaiah told reporters.

PTI