BJP storms Karnataka, but South India remains unconquered frontier

Deepika S

New Delhi, May 25: While the rest of the country was painted Saffron on May 23, five southern states still remain a pipe dream for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Out of the total 130 seats on offer in South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, the BJP has done very well, improving upon its 2014 tally. However, the BJP could barely win 30 seats and that too powered by its good showing in Karnataka.

Karnataka

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stunned the state of Karnataka with its impressive tally of 25 out of 28 seats with many of its candidates recording winning margins of 1-2 lakh votes.

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With the BJP dealing a hammer blow, Congress and JD(S) managed to win only one seat each, indicating that neither arithmetic nor chemistry worked for the two, which apparently failed to reconcile with each other at the ground level.

This is said to be the worst ever performance by Congress in Karnataka and a record of sorts by BJP, for which Karnataka emerged as the bright spot in the South with other neighbouring states bucking the "Modi magic".

Kerala

The hopes of the BJP-led NDA to ride piggyback on the Sabarimala women entry issue came a cropper in Kerala, with the front failing to open its account once again in the state.

The defeat of party veteran Kummanam Rajasekharan to Congress's incumbent MP Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram by a margin of nearly one lakh votes led to disappointment among the BJP cadre.

Rajasekharan could garner only around 3.16 lakh votes while Tharoor secured over four lakh votes.

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In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF was leading in 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats in the state while in Tamil Nadu, the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance looked set for a clean sweep as it led in 35 of the 38 seats in the state.

Kerala is one state where the saffron party's magic failed to charm voters.

Tamil Nadu

From the time of the first round of counting to till the end, the southern state showed a clear move against the alliance forged in the state between the BJP and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Tamil Nadu once again thwarted the BJP's desperate attempts to gain a foothold. In 2014, the state gave a huge victory to the AIADMK to keep the BJP at bay and this time, it had voted for the DMK-led front for the same purpose.

In 2014, the AIADMK won 37 seats, sparing one for the BJP and one for the PMK. This time, the DMK-led front has again won 37 constituencies, sparing one for .P Raveendranath (AIADMK) - son of deputy chief minister O. Paneerselvam - who contested from Theni. Vellore is yet to vote.

The second take-away is that the DMK-front has been able to exploit and ride the anti-BJP wave well. This includes in transferring votes. Nowhere does this show more prominently in the scale of the Congress's potential victories in 8 seats in Tamil Nadu.

Andhra Pradesh

Ever since its alliance with the TDP broke down in early 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed to be in a position to call the shots in government formation in Andhra Pradesh. But its dream has hit a road block with a complete rout in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

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Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress swept Andhra Pradesh both in the state assembly and Lok Sabha elections. In Telangana, the TRS led in 9 seats while the BJP and Congress led in four and three seats respectively.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had done well in 2014 in alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was washed out this time.

Telangana

Telangana was one of the biggest surprises this Lok Sabha Election as the BJP made inroads into the state, taking their tally of MPs from just one to four - in Adilabad, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Secunderabad constituencies.

The surprise surge of BJP in Telangana dented ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi's vote share by nearly six per cent in the Lok Sabha elections, giving a jolt to the regional party.

BJP which had just one Assembly seat of the 118 constituencies it contested for the Telangana Legislature in December last, rose to four Lok Sabha seats and trouncing the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in its bastions in the Lok Sabha elections in just four months marks a spectacular performance by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Chief Minister's s daughter and sitting MP K Kavitha lost in Nizamabad by 71,057 votes to BJPs D Arvind, a new entrant in politics was the icing on the cake.

Former union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya was the only BJP candidate who won in the state in 2014. He secured Secunderabad seat, which was retained by senior leader G Kishan Reddy this time.

The last time that the party contested on its own was in 1998 when it bagged four LS seats in united AP - two in Telangana region. In 1999, it won seven LS seats in alliance with the TDP, including four in Telangana region. By contesting all 17 LS seats on its own, the party estimates its vote share to be 18-20 per cent, which would make it perfectly positioned to take on the TRS in the next poll.

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