Bengaluru, May 13: The Congress is striding forward with 50 wins and leads in 87 seats, according to latest Election Commission of India trends, as votes were counted on May 13 for an election widely seen as a litmus test for both parties ahead of the 2024 parliamentary polls.
With a much-needed victory tantalisingly close in the crucial southern State, early celebrations broke out at the Opposition Congress headquarters in Bengaluru and Delhi. As per the latest Election Commission data at 2.40 p.m., the Congress is leading in 87 seats while the BJP is ahead in 42 seats.
Meanwhile, JD(S) is leading in 11 seats, Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha in one each while two Independent candidates are ahead in the initial trends. The counting is being held at 36 centres across the State, in which 2,615 candidates are in the fray.
As per the Election Commission, voting on May 10 passed off peacefully with a historic turnout of over 73.19%, surpassing the 2018 figures (72.36%) after the final reconciliation of figures.
The current term of the government will end on May 24, 2023.
Siddaramaiah v/s DKS
In the Congress's victory celebrations in Karnataka, the only downer is the looming Siddaramaiah versus DK Shivakumar tussle for the chief minister's job.
Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar are the Congress's top leaders in Karnataka, one a former chief minister and the other, the state Congress chief. Neither has been coy about their chief ministerial ambition.
Mr Shivakumar, 61, broke down as he spoke about delivering on a promise to the Gandhis. He also said he had not slept for three years, ever since he made the promise.
"I assured Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge that I will deliver Karnataka. I can't forget Sonia Gandhi coming to meet me in jail," said the emotional Congress leader.
On who would be Chief Minister, he said: "The Congress office is our temple. We will decide our next step at the Congress office."
Mr Shivakumar has been the congress's troubleshooter for years.
One of the wealthiest politicians in Karnataka, "DKS" rose to prominence in 2019 when he tried - but failed - to salvage the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition government, which collapsed after the mass defection of MLAs from both parties.
Unlike Siddaramaiah, Mr Shivakumar has always been a Congressman, and has not lost a single election since his first electoral victory in 1989.
Mr Shivakumar is facing several corruption cases and even spent time in Delhi's Tihar Jail before being granted bail. There was much speculation about the timing of the investigation and raids against the Congress leader in 2017, when he was "guarding" Congress MLAs from Gujarat ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in the state.
Siddaramaiah, 75, has repeatedly said this is his last electoral contest, hoping, perhaps, that the Congress will consider this while making its choice.
For his critics in the Congress, Siddaramaiah is still the "outsider", an import from another party.
"It's a big victory for the Congress party. The people of Karnataka wanted change. This is a mandate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Siddaramaiah said.
His son Yathindra Siddaramaiah said his father should be chief minister "for the sake of Karnataka".
"We will do anything to keep the BJP out of power. In the interest of Karnataka, my father should become Chief Minister," Yathindra Siddaramaiah told news agency ANI.
"As a son, definitely I would like to see him as a chief minister. But as a resident of the state, his last regime saw good governance. This time also, if he becomes Chief Minister, the corruption and misrule of the BJP rule will be corrected by him. In the interest of the State also, he should become Chief Minister," said Siddaramaiah junior.
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