India: Congress wins elections in Karnataka state, defeating BJP


NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition Congress party won elections in the southern state of Karnataka, today, emphatically defeating the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a big boost to its prospects ahead of national elections due next year.

The election is the first of five crucial state polls this year that are seen as setting the tone for parliamentary elections due in April and May 2024.

It is also the first big electoral face-off between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP and Congress since Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was convicted of defamation in March and lost his parliament seat.

Karnataka, which was ruled by the BJP, voted on Wednesday and votes were counted today. Congress won 136 seats against 64 for the BJP in the 224-member legislature.

The defeat in Karnataka would be a rare blow for the BJP considering Modi remains highly popular after nine years in power and is favourite to win a third term nationally in 2024.

Ecstatic Congress members burst firecrackers, danced to the beat of drums and distributed sweets at the party headquarters in New Delhi, and in Bengaluru, the global tech hub which is the capital city of Karnataka.

“(The) Congress party stood with the poor in Karnataka, we fought on the issues of the poor,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters.

“I feel happiest about the fact that we didn’t fight this fight with hate or wrong words. We fought this fight with love, with an open heart, and the people of Karnataka showed that this country likes love,” he said.

Karnataka is home to about 65 million people and is considered the BJP’s gateway to southern India, as the party has struggled to win elections elsewhere in the region.

“We accept the verdict of the people of Karnataka with due respect, we will take this verdict in our stride,” Basavaraj Bommai, the BJP’s outgoing chief minister of Karnataka, tweeted.__Pakistan Today