Bengaluru: Karnataka’s ruling coalition partner Congress on Wednesday wrested the high-profile Jayanagar Assembly constituency here from the opposition BJP, with its candidate Sowmya Reddy winning by a slender margin of 2,889 votes.
Of the total 1,11,580 votes polled, Sowmya secured 54,457 votes against 51,568 by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) B.N. Prahlad, a poll official told IANS.
Polling was held on Monday since elections to the seat were countermanded following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar on May 4, ahead of the May 12 assembly election.
The BJP fielded Kumar’s younger brother Prahlad, 57, in the fray against Sowmya, 35, daughter of former state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, who also won from the neighbouring BTM Layout segment.
Withdrawal of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) candidate Kalegowda from the fray on June 5 in support of Congress made it easier for Sowmya to take on Prahlad and 17 other contestants.
Amidst bursting of firecrackers and frenzied celebrations at Reddy’s home office, Sowmya said the victory belonged to all party workers.
“This is a collective victory of all the Congress workers and guidance of my father (Ramalinga Reddy),” an elated Sowmya told reporters.
A rights activist and former member of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), she has been a member of the youth and women wings of the Congress’ state unit.
Sowmya is the lone woman legislator from Bengaluru’s 28 assembly segments and the youngest first-time lawmaker in the state.
With Sowmya’s win, Congress has five women legislators in the 225-member Assembly, as against three from the BJP and none from the ruling coalition partner JD-S.
Jubilant scenes were witnessed at Reddy’s home, while the BJP’s state unit office was forlorn.
Prahlad said he would continue to work for the constituency despite the defeat.
“Democracy has its ups and downs. Setbacks give an opportunity to become stronger. Myself and BJP will continue to work for the people of Jayanagar. We will rise again, sooner than most think! Congratulations to Congress and Sowmya Reddy,” he tweeted.
According to a poll analyst, Sowmya’s win was because of her connect with the young voters.
“She (Sowmya) won because many new and young electorate voted for her and withdrawal of JD-S candidate benefitted her, as secular votes did not get split between Congress and JD-S,” the analyst told IANS.
With wins in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru southwest on May 31 and Jayanagar, the Congress tally in the aAsembly has gone up to 79, as against 36 of JD-S and 104 of BJP. Of the 28 seats in Bengaluru, Congress has 15, BJP 11 and JD-S 2.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and several party leaders and cabinet ministers congratulated Sowmya for her victory.
Union Minister and BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bengaluru South Ananth Kumar said the party would accept the verdict humbly in the closely-contested election despite an “unholy” last minute tie-up of the Congress and JD-S.
“We thank voters for this trust. In this hour of unexpected defeat, I am away from our candidate (Prahlad) and thousands of party cadres as am in Delhi for a crucial cabinet meet,” Kumar tweeted hours after the result was declared.