Kalaburagi: In a major setback for the Congress, veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who had remained undefeated since he first contested the Assembly polls in 1972, and the Working President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Eshwar Khandre were trounced in the Kalaburagi and Bidar Lok Sabha seats respectively by BJP candidates by huge margins .
In the adjoining Raichur Lok Sabha seat, BJP candidate Raja Amaresh Naik defeated sitting MP and Congress candidate B.V. Naik leaving the Congress routed in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
In the keenly watched Kalaburagi seat where there was a straight fight between Mr Kharge and the BJP candidate Dr Umesh Jadhav, the latter maintained a lead since the first round of counting. The lead went on increasing after every of round and eventually, Dr Jadhav beat Mr Kharge by a margin of 1,01,333 votes. While Dr Jadhav secured 6,04,171 votes, Mr Kharge could manage only 5,02,838 votes. Dr Jadhav’s victory spoilt Mr Kharge’s ambition of registering a record 12th victory in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. In Bidar, Mr Khandre had to taste defeat at the hands of sitting MP and BJP candidate Bhagwan Khuba by a huge margin of 1,16,834 votes. While Mr Khuba secured 5,85,471 votes, Mr Khandre got only 4,68,471 votes. Despite the Lok Sabha constituency having four Congress MLAs and one JD(S) legislator, Khandre who runs a chain of educational institutions, could not wrest the seat from the BJP candidate, who solely depended on the Modi wave . What was interesting was that Mr Khandre trailed behind Mr Khuba by 12,293 votes in the Bhalki Assembly seat represented by him.
In Raichur, BJP candidate Raja Amaresh Naik defeated Congress candidate Mr B.V. Naik. After the 2009 polls in which Mr Sanna Fakeerappa had won on a BJP ticket, this is the second time the BJP has won the seat.
There were poignant scenes at the District Congress Committee (DCC) office here in the afternoon when Mr Kharge went there to thank the Congress leaders who strived hard during his campaign. Many leaders including former Minister Dr Sharan Prakash Patil were in tears when Mr Kharge entered the hall. There were forlorn looks on the faces of the leaders and workers, who turned up in large numbers to express their grief over the defeat of their leader. Mr Kharge had to appeal to them not to shed tears and get disheartened.
The veteran leader was visibly upset over his defeat and struggled hard not to become emotional. Addressing the gathering, he said he would bow to the “punishment” meted out to him by the people of Kalaburagi.
While pointing to a conspiracy hatched at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to defeat him, Mr Kharge remarked he was pained that the people had chosen to punish him despite having done a “lot of work”.
“It’s unfortunate that people have not even appreciated my contributions like the enactment of Article 371(J) on special status for Hyderabad-Karnataka”, Mr Kharge remarked.
Trying to cheer them up saying he would not retire from politics, Mr Kharge asked them to watch out for the effort by his opponents to weaken the party. “This is not the end of career. Let us fight for strengthening the party. Moreover with the elections to the Muncipal corporation round the corner, get ready for them”, he advised....