BJP’s Ramachandra Gowda wins by a whisker

Four-term veteran Ramachandra Gowda, 74, won the graduates constituency MLC seat for Bangalore by a whisker. At the end of the first preference votes count, he was trailing the JD(S) candidate Deve Gowda. He then managed to edge past him when second preference votes we transferred from other candidates.

Ramachandra Gowda (BJP). Pic: Ramachandra Gowda

Ramachandra Gowda, the  incumbent, secured 8468 votes to Deve Gowda’s 8224, and Congress’ Ramoji Gowda, 39, was placed third with 5541 votes.

Reformist Lok Satta party candidate Ashwin Mahesh, 42, came fourth. However his showing of 4000-plus first preference votes  has been widely seen in his social media support base as a foundation for bigger things ahead. Mahesh’s final tally was 4349 votes. "There is wide agreement that we have opened the door to a new politics, which has a fair chance of competing with established parties”, said Mahesh in a post on Facebook.

Ashwin Mahesh (middle). Pic: Navya P K

Since none of the candidates initially had a majority (51%) of first preference votes, they were eliminated one-by-one and their second preference votes were transferred to other candidates.

Candidate    Total votes First preference votes
Ramachandra Gowda, BJP 8468 6521
Deve Gowda, JD(S) 8224 6680
Ramoji Gowda (Cong) 5541 5002
Ashwin Mahesh (Lok Satta) 4349 4088
Lakshmi (CPI(M)) 536 508

In all 25,336 valid votes we cast out of 27,000 odd voters this time. The total votes counted in 2006 for the same race were around 20,000, according to  Election Commission sources.

Deve Gowda (JD(S)). Pic: Navya P K

Speaking to Citizen Matters, Deve Gowda speculated that after Mahesh’s elimination, many of his voters’ second preference choice for Ramachandra Gowda ended up working in the latter’s favour, tilting the scales.

Malleshwaram-based Dr Meenakshi Bharath of Lok Satta agrees. "At the count of the 1st preferential the leads (votes) were in the 6000 range with the JDS leading over BJP. It was only in the 13th round (after eliminating 12 candidates and entering the last four) – when Mahesh’s 2nd preferential votes were being counted that BJP got 600 votes and took the lead away from the JDS", she wrote in an email on Thursday night. Meenakshi termed the BJP’s win "by the skin of their teeth". 

In 2006, Deve Gowda had run as a Congress candidate, winning around 6000 votes, and lost to Ramachandra Gowda who had won around 11,000 votes then. Other candidates could not be reached for comment at the time this article was published.

City-based theatre person and journalist Prakash Belawadi, also a Lok Satta party member says, “It is great that Ashwin Mahesh got so many votes. When I was contesting in 2010 city council elections in Lok Satta ticket, we could not even conceive of the notion of winning. Getting even 1000 votes would have been a great deal then.”

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