BJP looks set to hit the Karnataka jackpot

Bengaluru, May 15 The BJP today appeared headed for a simple majority in the Karnataka Assembly, with its candidates leading in 115 constituencies, leaving the ruling Congress way behind, according to the latest trends available for 220 of the state's 222 seats where polling was held. Reflecting the plight of the Congress, which was ahead in 63 Assembly segments, chief minister Siddaramaiah was trailing in Chamundeshwari in Mysuru by over 23,000 votes against his JD(S) rival G T Deve Gowda. In the see-saw battle in Badami in north Karnataka, Siddaramaiah was leading by over 2,700 votes against BJP's B Sreeramulu, a Lok Sabha MP and close associate of the controversial Reddy brothers. B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP's chief ministerial rpt chief ministerial candidate, was ahead of his Congress rival Goni Malatesha by over 24,000 votes in Shikaripura. Trends showed that another key player JD(S) led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda was faring well in its traditional stronghold of Mysuru region, hurting the prospects of the Congress. JD(S) was ahead in 40 constituencies. The BSP and KPJP were leading in one seat each. The trends also indicated that the BJP's footprint spread across Karnataka, save the old Mysuru region, where the JD(S) with its solid Vokkaliga base was faring well. Several ministers including Ramanath Rai, Anjaneya, Umasri, T B Jayachandra, Revanna, Santosh Lad, Vinay Kulkarni, Sharanprakash Patil and A Manju were trailing behind their rivals. Even as the trends were pouring in, it was celebration time for the BJP workers who gathered in front of the state party headquarters here and elsewhere in the state, chanting slogans, blowing conch shells and breaking into a jig. The Congress was set to face severe drubbing despite polling 38 per cent votes against the BJP's 37.2 per cent. Though no results have been declared yet, Yeddyurappa's aide and Lok Sabha MP Shobha Karandlaje told reporters in Bengaluru that he would fly to New Delhi later in the day to finalise the date for his swearing-in after consulting the national leadership. Polling for R R Nagar seat was deferred on account of alleged electoral malpractices, while it was countermanded in Jayanagar seat following the death of the BJP candidate. PTI In the outgoing Assembly, the Congress had 122 seats, BJP and JD(S) 40 each, and smaller parties and independents 22.
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