Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy, who lost a cliffhanger in Jayanagar by 16 votes, has made a passionate appeal to her leaders and followers, requesting their support to fight “the injustice of foul play”.
Amidst chaotic scenes, Jayanagar witnessed several rounds of recounting of votes on the night of Saturday, 13 May. Sowmya Reddy initially thought to have defeated her nearest rival CK Ramamurthy of the BJP, lost by the slenderest of the margins in the polls to the Karnataka Assembly’s 224 seats.
In a social media post on Sunday, she appealed for support, even as her party moved a Bengaluru court for a stay on the Jayanagar result.
With Jayanagar going in its favour after prolonged dramatic movements, the BJP ended up with 66 seats — way behind the Congress’s 135.
Incidentally, Sowmya Reddy’s namesake, too, was in the fray. She bagged 294 votes. The latter Sowmya, of Anekal, denied allegations that she was a proxy candidate the BJP had fielded.
Thanks to the thousands of you who have showed solidarity.
I plead your continued support to fight this injustice of foul play in the Jayanagar elections.…
— Sowmya | ಸೌಮ್ಯ (@Sowmyareddyr) May 14, 2023
Sowmya’s father Ramalinga Reddy, who won the BTM Layout Assembly seat, was livid. “After rejecting the postal votes once, how can they (the Election Commission of India) take them back into account,” he asked.
“Around 250 postal ballots were considered invalid by the ECI officials due to various flaws, such as wrongly attested, no seals, etc. When these many votes were earlier considered invalid, how can they make those valid later? When they made those valid, Sowmya was short of 16 votes,” Ramalinga Reddy told South First.
“The returning officer succumbed to the BJP’s pressure,” he alleged.
Sowmya Reddy’s win-and-lose trended on social media for a while on Saturday and Sunday.
A netizen, Surabhi Hodigere, tweeted: “What happened in Jayanagar and how the BJP won by 16 votes — a thread.”
What really happened in Jayanagar and how the BJP won by 16 votes – a thread.
— Surabhi Hodigere (@SurabhiHodigere) May 14, 2023
Chief Electoral Officer Manoj Kumar Meena did not respond to South First‘s attempts for a comment on the controversy.
Chaos at Jayanagar
Jayanagar witnessed a close contest that went down to the wire. The ECI initially declared Sowmya Reddy the winner by a margin of 294 votes.
However, Ramamurthy challenged the verdict and demanded a recount. Before the recount, Soumya had won 57,591 votes, and Ramamurthy, 57,297.
The first declaration of the result led to high drama at the counting centre, the SSMRV PU College in Fourth T-Block in Jayanagar.
According to sources, votes were recounted more than five times after which Sowmya Reddy was again declared the winner, this time by a slender margin of 160 votes. Even as rounds of recounting continued and the results kept changing, both BJP and Congress cadres took turns in celebrating their respective candidate’s win.
Sowmya’s father Ramalinga Reddy was at the centre overseeing the counting process. After being informed of the fluctuating fortunes, senior BJP and Congress leaders rushed to the centre.
Senior leaders arrive
Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya, and Padmanabhanagar MLA R Ashoka of the BJP, and KPCC leaders DK Shivakumar and DK Suresh reached the counting centre by night.
However, the Congress leaders were not allowed into the counting centre as the police feared that it might spin the already chaotic situation out of control.
After being stopped, the leaders tried to force their way in, which resulted in a commotion, the police said. Additional police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order, a senior police officer said.
Late on Saturday night, the ECI declared the BJP’s Ramamurthy the winner amidst allegations of rigging. He bagged 57,797 votes while Soumya Reddy got 57,781 votes.