File photos of Siddaramaiah and BS Yeddyurappa. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
Though the Congress won 26 fewer seats than the BJP in the bitterly fought Karnataka election, its vote share was nearly two per cent points higher, according to data released by the Election Commission.
At the end of counting of votes for 219 of the 224 constituencies, the BJP emerged as the single largest party bagging 101 seats and was leading in three with a vote share of 36.2 per cent while the Congress came second with 78 seats accounting for 38 per cent of the votes.
Polling for RR Nagar seat was deferred on account of alleged electoral malpractices while it was countermanded in Jayanagar seat following the death of the BJP candidate.
Karnataka recorded the highest voter turnout at 72.13 per cent since the 1952 assembly elections.
According to the official data, the Congress' vote share rose marginally to 38 per cent in the current polls from 36.6 per cent in 2013 but the party had to settle for lesser seats. The ruling party had a strength of 122 MLAs in the outgoing house. Its vote share was 35.13 per cent in 2008.
Interestingly, over three lakh people, accounting for 0.9% votes share opted for None Of The Above (NOTA) option.
On the other hand, the BJP's vote share remained marginally lower than that of Congress but at 36.2 per cent it recorded the highest so far and also managed to bag more seats but will fall short of nine seats for a comfortable majority in a House of 224. The BJP had 40 seats in the outgoing house.
The BJP's previous highest in vote share was 33.86 per cent in 2008, when BS Yeddyurappa rode to power by winning 110 seats to usher in the first saffron government in the south. But the party failed to retain power in 2013 as it could manage only 40 seats with its vote share dropping drastically to 19.9 per cent because of two splits in the party.
The two splinter parties - B S Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) and B Sriramulu's BSR Congress Party (BSRCP) -- cut into BJP's share in 2013. KJP and BSRCP had got 9.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent vote share, respectively.
JD(S)' vote share declined to 18.4 per cent this year from 20.2 per cent in 2013 and 19.44 per cent in 2008 and is in the hunt for power after stitching a dramatic post-poll alliance with rival Congress. The party headed by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda got three seats less than the 40 it obtained in the previous polls.
Political analyst Yogendra Yadav said there is "nothing new" in the vote share pattern and the link with the seats won by the rival parties.
"There is nothing new here. This is exactly what happened in 2008 as well. Congress' votes are more or less evenly spread throughout the state. BJP votes are concentrated in few pockets. Although the average vote share of BJP is lower than the Congress, but where BJP and Congress are in competition, BJP's average is much higher than the Congress," Mr Yadav said.
Mr Yadav also claimed there is no big wave in favour of the BJP.
"There is no popular mandate in favour of BJP. But there is a popular mandate against Congress. People have rejected Congress but not selected BJP. That is because both political parties have not raised any of the key issues affecting the people of Karnataka, be it farmers issues, unemployment and widespread corruption. This has led to the strange fractured verdict."
Mr Yadav also said the vote share of the JD(S) showed its popularity has not gone up as its votes are concentrated in a small pocket of old Mysuru region.
(With inputs from PTI)