The smile on the face of the Congress after it regained its lost citadel — Ballari Parliamentary Constituency — has turned into a scowl within six months.
For, it was confident of retaining the seat, which it had wrested from the BJP after 15 years when V.S. Ugrappa emerged victorious in the by-elections about six months ago (November 2018) by a thumping majority (2.43 lakhs). Added to that were the six Assembly segments held by it.
In contrast, the Congress suffered a severe set-back in the just concluded elections to the Lok Sabha when the BJP gained considerable lead in at least three Assembly segments held by the Congress and in Kudligi, held by BJP (22,262).
BJP candidate Y. Devendrappa polled a total of 6,16,388 votes defeating the Congress candidate [Mr. Ugrappa] by a margin of 55,707 votes.
Except in Ballari (Scheduled Tribes) represented by B. Nagendra (which gave a lead of 13,545 votes to the Congress) and in Kampli, represented by J.N. Ganesh, which gave a lead of 3,431 votes, the Congress fared badly in Hadagali, represented by P.T. Parmeshwar Naik, Minister for Skill Development and Religious Endowment, where the lead was minus 14,615 votes, in Sandur represented by E. Tukaram, Minister for Medical Education, where the lead was a marginal 1,353 votes, Hagari Bommanahalli represented by Bheema Naik where the lead was minus 21,856 votes and in Vijayanagar represented by B.S. Anand Singh where the lead was a minus 18,494 votes.
However, the Congress managed to secure a small lead of 4,234 votes in Ballari city held by the BJP.
In the by-elections, the Congress had secured lead in all the eight Assembly segments, including the two held by the BJP, to poll a total of 6,12,000 votes.
The following is the comparative figures of lead secured by the Congress in the order of November 2018 by-elections and May 2019 elections: Ballari city 23,723, 4,234; Ballari (ST) 33,255, 13,545; Hadagali 31,419, (-) 14,615; Sandur 38,675, 1,353; Hagari Bommanahalli 30,762, (-) 21,856; Kudligi 22,029, (-) 22,262; Kampli 34,448, 3,431 and Vijayanagar 29,460 votes, (-) 18,494 votes. Even as counting began, the BJP candidate secured a lead for the first few rounds and then the Congress registered a thin lead during the seventh round. From the eighth round onwards, the BJP began taking a leap in securing a lead over the Congress and continued it till the end of the 19th round.
In the May 2019 elections, 1.71 lakh more voters had exercised their franchise compared to the total votes polled in the by-elections held in 2018. Ballari Parliamentary Constituency recorded 69.59% polling having a total electorate of 17.51 lakh voters in this elections.
The higher turnout in this elections, which had also given room for guessing as to who — Mr. Ugrappa of the Congress or Mr. Devendrappa of the BJP — would be the beneficiaries, seems to have gone in favour of the BJP. In the by-elections, the BJP candidate had polled 3.85 lakh votes and now it has become double — 6.16 lakh.