Scam hit Yeddy sweeps Panchayat polls

The outcome of the local body elections in Karnataka was being viewed by many as a referendum on the performance of the scam-battered BS Yeddyurappa government. By leading the BJP to the position of the single largest party in the elections to the zilla panchayat and the taluka panchayat, Yeddyurappa has proved his vote-catching abilities once again, silencing his critics both within the BJP and outside, at least for the time being. The BJP not only reinforced its position as the most powerful stakeholder in the state, it was a virtual rout for the Congress which held the absolute majority in the zilla panchayats and the taluka panchayats since 2005, while the JD(S), the third pole in the southern state, suffered a marginal decline. At the end of the counting of votes on Tuesday, of the 30 zilla panchayats, the BJP bagged the majority in 12 districts, followed by four each to the Congress and JD (S). In the remaining 10 districts, there was no clear winner, but the BJP was said to be in a position to win five with the help of non-Congress, non-JD(S) players, including independents. In the 176 taluka panchayats, the BJP had gained majority in 68 places, followed by the JD(S), which had emerged victorious at 39 places, and the Congress (31). As many as 46 talukas threw a hung verdict, while the others romped home from 2 places. The results showed that, notwithstanding the string of scams that had emerged to the fore in the last few months, including land-grab cases involving the chief minister’s sons, the BJP remained the largest player in the state and, for the BJP, Yeddyurappa, who belongs to the numerically-powerful Lingayat community, remained the best bet. The BJP leadership will have no option but to put up with him if it had to emerge as a dominant player in the state. The elections to these local bodies were held on December 26 and 31 with 1,013 zila panchayat seats and 3,659 taluka panchayat seats up for grabs. These elections provide an indication of a party’s popularity as well as its hold at the grass-root level. In the 2005 elections, Congress had bagged 22 districts, followed by 6 by the JD(S) and the BJP gaining majority only at one place. For the ruling party, thus, it has been a massive jump, even though conventional wisdom has been that the ruling party always manages to gain the majority. Expressing satisfaction over the performance of the party, Yeddyurappa said that in the past, he had said that BJP would emerge as the single largest party, and he had proved his point. But what show come as a dampener in the saffron surge is thin line of victory in Yeddyurappa’s home district of Shimoga and lack of a clear majority in the districts which are seen as the stronghold of the Reddy brothers —Bellary, Koppal and Raichur. For the BJP, the results of the local body elections are being seen as a continuation of victories since coming to power in the state in May, 2008. It had bagged the majority in the crucial local body elections of Bangalore city and the Cooperative bodies, as well as winning 8 of the 16 Assembly by-elections.

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