Despite being in power in Karnataka, the Congress won only nine of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka. The Bharatiya Janata Party won 17 seats, and its ally, the Janata Dal (Secular), won two seats.

In 2019, Congress had won just one seat while BJP emerged victorious in 26. This time, the Congress expected to win a larger number of seats on the back of the welfare schemes it had introduced after coming to power in the state Assembly elections last year.

However, the Lok Sabha results showed the welfare schemes did not yield the large dividends that the Congress expected, said political analyst A Narayana, a professor of Politics and Governance at Azim Premji University.

“Congress also trained its guns on BJP for not releasing tax dues and drought relief to the state,” he said. “Even it failed to strike a chord with the electorate.”

Narayana said the BJP appears to have benefitted from its alliance with Janata Dal (Secular), which has a strong base among the significant Vokkaliga community.

Rape accused loses

Although the Janata Dal (Secular) won two seats, it lost Hassan. The party’s candidate Prajwal Revanna, who was arrested recently on rape charges, lost the election by a margin of 42,649 votes to Congress candidate Shreyas M Patel.

Revanna is the grandson of former Prime Minister and the founder of Janata Dal (Secular), H D Deve Gowda. Hassan went to polls in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 26.

Days before polling, thousands of video clips surfaced showing Revanna sexually assaulting many women. The Janata Dal (Secular) was forced to suspend its campaign. Revanna fled the country in the early hours of April 27 to Germany. He was arrested on his return to Bengaluru on May 30.

Hassan has been a stronghold of the Janata Dal (Secular). Deve Gowda has represented the constituency five times. In 2019, Revanna had defeated BJP candidate Manju A by a margin of 1,41,324 votes in an alliance with the Congress.

This time, with the Janata Dal (Secular) allying with the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned for Prajwal Revanna. The Congress had demanded an apology from the prime minister for endorsing a serial rapist.

However, in his first media interaction after the election result was announced on Tuesday, Congress leader Patel said the emergence of the videos did not play a role in the election. “It is a mandate for change,” he said.

Double blow for DK Shivakumar

Though Congress increased its tally, deputy chief minister and Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar suffered a personal setback on Tuesday as his brother DK Suresh lost to the BJP’s CN Manjunath by over 2.69 lakh votes.

DK Suresh was the lone Congress winner in 2019 and had been representing the constituency for three consecutive terms. Both the candidates belonged to the Vokkaliga community. The defeat could put Shivakumar’s credentials as a Vokkaliga leader in question.

Despite being the son-in-law of Janata Dal (Secular) founder and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Manjunath contested on a BJP ticket.

Shivakumar also took a hit with the loss of Mrinal Hebbalkar from Belgaum constituency. Mrinal is son of Shivakumar’s close aide and minister of women and child development Laxmi R Hebbalkar.

Yediyurappa emerges stronger

The BJP’s ability to retain most of its Lok Sabha seats despite having lost last year’s Assembly elections will strengthen veteran BJP leader and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s grip over the party. The party contested the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka under his leadership, unlike the state polls where he had been sidelined.

Yediyurappa’s elder son BY Raghavedra emerged victorious from Shivamogga constituency defeating Congress Geeta Shivarajkumar, who is the sister of state Education minister Madhu Bangarappa. His protege and Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Shobha Karandalaje won from Bengaluru North constituency. Karandlaje, who won from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency twice, was shifted to Bengaluru North at the insistence of Yediyurappa.

However, the BJP would be forced to explain the loss of Union Minister of State for Fertilisers’ and Chemicals Bhagwanth Khuba who lost the Bidar seat to Sagar Khandre, the son of state forest minister Eshwar Khandre, by a margin of 1.28 lakh votes. In 2019, Khube had defeated the father by 1.16 lakh votes.