From Education Minister BC Nagesh to National General Secretary CT Ravi, here are major BJP candidates who lost

Not only was the BJP down a few dozen seats from 2018, some of its senior leaders suffered humiliating defeats.

BySumit Jha

Published May 13, 2023 | 9:02 PM Updated May 13, 2023 | 9:26 PM

From Education Minister BC Nagesh to National General Secretary CT Ravi, here are major BJP candidates who lost

As the Congress romped home in the Karnataka State Legislative Assembly elections, winning 136 seats in the 224-member House — its best performance in over 30 years — the biggest loser was the BJP.

Not only was the saffron party down a few dozen seats from its tally in the 2018 Assembly elections, some of its senior leaders suffered humiliating defeats.

Among those who bit the dust were National General Secretary CT Ravi and Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar. Here are the prominent losers in the party.

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CT Ravi

Chikkamagaravalli Thimme Gowda Ravi (CT Ravi), who previously served as the minister of tourism, Kannada and culture, and small scale industries in the Karnataka government, lost the Chikkamagaluru seat to Congress candidate HD Thammaiah by a margin of 5,926 votes.

Ravi received 77,979 votes while the Congress candidate received 85,054 votes.

Ravi, one of the Hindutva faces of the BJP in the state, is known for making comments against the Opposition and religious minority communities.

He has previously made controversial comments such as the BJP would teach a lesson to the “fake secularists” and those who support the “tukde-tukde gang”. He also referred to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi as “Corona Jihad” on social media, which led to accusations of communalising the pandemic.

Ravi is also the BJP in-charge for Tamil Nadu.

In a tweet, Ravi acknowledged his defeat, which was a significant setback for the BJP leader from the politically influential Vokkaliga community. He is known to be close to the party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“I accept my loss in the Assembly elections. I wholeheartedly thank BJP Chikmagalur karyakartas (party workers) and the people of Chikmagalur for their support to me all these years. I congratulate all the winning candidates and wish them the very best in the coming days,” he tweeted.

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B Sreeramulu

B Sreeramulu, a prominent leader from the Valmiki Nayaka community, which is classified as a Scheduled Tribe (ST) , and the Karnataka minister for transport and tribal welfare, lost the Bellary seat in a hotly-contested election by a margin of 29,300 votes.

In the previous election in 2018, he had won Bellary by defeating B Nagendra, a three-time MLA. B Nagendra, the Congress candidate, secured 1,03,836 votes, while Sreeramulu could only manage to get 74,536 votes.

Sreeramulu has previously served as a Member of Parliament in the 16th and 17th Lok Sabha from the Bellary constituency. He has also been a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly multiple times and has held various positions in the state government.

Before joining the BJP, Sreeramulu was associated with the BSR Congress, a regional political party that he founded in 2011. However, he merged his party with the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

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R Ashok

Despite being a senior leader of the BJP in Karnataka and the Minister of Revenue of the state, R Ashok suffered a major defeat in the elections. He was contesting against the Congress state unit chief DK Shivkumar and JD(S) candidate B Nagaraju in the constituency.

However, R Ashok managed to secure only 19,753 votes, coming third after B Nagaraju, who polled 20,631 votes. DK Shivkumar emerged as the clear winner with a massive margin of 1,22,392 votes, after having polled 1,43,023 votes.

R Ashok previously served as the deputy chief minister of Karnataka and held several portfolios, including home, transport, and revenue, in the state government.

He has been a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly since 1994 and has won multiple elections from the Padmanabhanagar constituency in Bengaluru.

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V Somanna

V Somanna, the minister of housing and infrastructure development in Karnataka, has suffered defeats in the Assembly elections in both the constituencies he contested from.

He lost the Chamarajanagar seat to Congress leader C Puttarangashetty by a margin of 7,533 votes, while JD(S) candidate Mallikarjuna Swamy received only 1,082 votes. Puttarangashetty received 83,136 votes, while Somanna managed to garner 76,325 votes.

In the Varuna constituency, he lost to former chief minister Siddaramaiah by a margin of 46,163 votes.

Siddaramaiah received 1,19,816 votes, while Somanna received 73,653 votes. Earlier in the day, Siddaramaiah had predicted that Somanna would lose both seats.

Somanna has served as MLA multiple times and held various positions in the state government, including deputy chief minister and minister of housing, urban development, and Hajj. He was also the BJP’s candidate for the mayoral elections in Bengaluru in 2020.

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Dr K Sudhakar

Dr K Sudhakar, the Karnataka minister of medical education and health, who defected to the BJP from the Congress in 2019, was defeated by Congress candidate Pradeep Eshwar in Chikkaballapur by over 10,642 votes. Eshwar received 86,224 votes while Sudhakar managed to get 75,582 votes.

Dr Sudhakar made controversial comments in May 2020 about the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, which was linked to a large number of Covid-19 cases in India. He reportedly called the attendees “terrorists” and demanded that they be “shot at sight.”

These remarks were widely criticised by Opposition leaders and members of the Muslim community, who accused him of communalising the pandemic.

In April 2021, Dr Sudhakar made headlines again after he was caught on camera allegedly slapping a worker at a Covid-19 care centre in Chikkaballapur district. The video clip went viral on social media, drawing widespread condemnation.

He later apologised for his actions and claimed that he had acted out of frustration as the worker had refused to cooperate with him.

In addition, Dr Sudhakar has also been criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Karnataka, particularly with regard to the state’s vaccination programme. Many have accused him of mismanaging vaccine supplies and failing to provide adequate protection to frontline healthcare workers.

During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Sudhakar sparked controversy by reserving 15 percent of beds at prominent hospitals in Bengaluru for Covid-19 patients from his constituency of Chikkaballapur.

Govind Karjol

Govind M. Karjol, who was serving as the minister of major and medium irrigation, and water resources in Karnataka, suffered defeat by a margin of 17,335 votes. The Congress candidate Timmapur Ramappa Balappa emerged victorious with 77,298 votes, while Karjol secured only 59,963 votes.

Karjol has been a long-time member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, having been first elected in 1999.

He has held several important positions in the state government, including deputy chief minister and minister of the public works department, social welfare, and Backward Classes welfare.

Additionally, he is the vice-president of the Karnataka state unit of the BJP.

BC Nagesh

BC Nagesh, minister of school education in Karnataka, lost to Congress candidate K Shadakshari in Tiptur’s constituency of Tumkur. Shadakshari won the election by a significant margin of 17,652 votes, receiving 71,999 votes, while Nagesh polled 54,347 votes.

As education minister, Nagesh was the face of the state government’s stance against young Muslim women wearing hijab in school. He was also a driving force behind the saffronisation of textbooks, but was eventually forced to backtrack due to criticism from Opposition parties, Kannada organisations, and civil society.

Nagesh played a significant role in enforcing the ban on Muslim students wearing the hijab at Karnataka’s government pre-university institutions (PUC).

The hijab controversy reached its peak in December 2021 when six students from the government PU college in Udupi were barred from wearing hijabs to class. The students filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court and, ultimately, the Supreme Court to assert their constitutional right to religious freedom.