Leading national and regional newspapers on Sunday reported on the impressive scale of the Congress’s victory in Karnataka.
Several articles noted that the Bharatiya Janata Party lost the election despite an extensive campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress registered the biggest victory by any party in the state since 1989, winning 135 out of 244 seats in the Assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party won 66 seats, and was defeated in the only state in south India where it held power. The Janata Dal (Secular) won 19 constituencies, 18 less than its tally from 2018.
The Hindu said on its first page that Karnataka gave the Congress an unambiguous mandate and sent out a clear message for change. The article, titled “Congress surge topples BJP in Karnataka”, said that the Congress’s focus on corruption charges, free power and income support paid off.
“The acid test for the Congress will now be to choose a chief minister, with both Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president DK Shivakumar publicly jockeying for the post in the run-up to the election,” it said.
The Times of India said that the BJP under Modi “made an all-out bid” to secure a win for his party, but failed. It said that the results were a much-needed shot in the arm for the Congress as it had not won a single large state since 2018.
The results could also constitute “personal validation for recently-disqualified MP Rahul Gandhi, who spent three weeks of his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka, the longest for any state,” the newspaper said.
The New Indian Express front page read “Congress: ‘Hasta’ La Vista, BJP” – a reference to the Congress’s electoral symbol of the hand. The headline was a pun on the expression, “Hasta la vista”, which broadly means “see you later” in Spanish.
The newspaper said that Modi’s charisma was not enough for the BJP in Karnataka. It noted that the vote share of Congress increased by 5% and seats by 58 as compared to the last Assembly elections in 2018.
“Congress did well in all regions except Coastal Karnataka, where BJP managed to hold its ground,” the newspaper said. “In the Old Mysore Region, the party made big gains at the expense of the JD(S), which took a big hit in a do-or-die battle.”
The Telegraph led with the headline reading “We, the hopeful”. It pointed out that the election result in Karnataka was a milestone moment. “The people have taken matters into their own hands in the most democratic manner invented by humankind when almost every pillar and every institution appears to have been overwhelmed by or ill-prepared to deal with a rampaging force multiplier that feeds on hate and fear.”
Kannada language daily, Kannada Prabha, led its front page with the headline, “Congress Bajrangi, BJP Bali,” referring to the Congress’s promise of a “firm and decisive” action against the Bajrang Dal, which led to vehement opposition from the BJP.
The newspaper noted that this was the biggest majority for any party in Karnataka since 1989, when the Congress under former Chief Minister Veerendra Patil won 178 out of 224 seats. It said that Saturday’s results indicate that the Congress received a significant share of Lingayat votes and also those from the Vokkaliga community, who are believed to largely vote for the Janata Dal (Secular).
Another Kannada daily, Udayavani, said on its front page that there has been a “change of guard” in Karnataka. It took note of the Congress’s strong performance in the central Karnataka and Old Mysore regions.
The Tamil daily, Dinakaran, highlighted that the Karnataka Speaker and 12 other ministers lost their seats in the elections. It also noted that former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who left the BJP and joined the Congress in April, lost by 32,000 votes.
On page eight, the newspaper credited Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Joda Yatra for the party’s success. The daily pointed out that Gandhi was in Karnataka for 22 days and walked 500 kilometres across Mysuru, Mandya, Tumkur, Chitadurga, Bellari and Raichur.
Another Tamil newspaper, Dinamani, said that the Karnataka election result was a “great success for the Congress” and noted the defeat of the Bommai-led Cabinet ministers.
Marathi daily Loksatta said that the victory of the Congress was based on a combination of three factors: a focused campaign, empowered state-level party leadership and the impact of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Another Marathi newspaper, Lokmat, wrote on its front page: “Jai Bajrangbali, Congress is Bahubali”. Referring to the controversy about the Congress’s stance on the Bajrang Dal, the newspaper said that Bajrangbali (a reference to the Hindu deity Hanuman) was happy with the Congress and its victory proved it to be a ‘Bahubali’.