Bengaluru, Dec 30 (PTI) Both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress in Karnataka on Wednesday claimed major victories for candidates backed by them in the recent elections to over 5,700 village panchayats even as counting of votes polled in the grass-root level exercise was underway.
The elections, not held on party symbols, were conducted to 82,616 seats in 5,728 village panchayats in two phases on December 22 and 27 using ballot papers with a voter turnout of 78.58 per cent and counting was taken up on Wednesday morning.
Karnataka State Election Commission officials said counting was on at 226 centres at the Taluk headquarters by adhering to strict COVID-19 protocol of mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.
Though there were no official declaration of results till night, BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah maintained that candidates backed by their parties were winning in maximum seats.
A total of 2,22,814 candidates contested the election, while 8,074 were elected unopposed.
Though these polls are not held on party symbols, all political parties have put in efforts to ensure that the candidate supported by them wins, so as to have their hold on grass-root level politics.
In a statement, Kateel said BJP "won maximum seats", for which he gave credit to various strategies drawn by the party.
He said rural-centric schemes such as Gram Swaraj and activation of booth level committees helped in taking to the people the measures initiated by the Central and state governments for development.
"People supported the development and voted in favour of the BJP backed candidates," Kateel said.
Siddaramaiah in a series of tweets claimed that the farmers taught the BJP a lesson.
"Rural India is frustrated by the policies implemented by @BJP4India. Farmers are against anti-farmer laws and they found Gram Panchayat elections as the perfect opportunity to teach @BJP4India a lesson. Reports suggest that @INCKarnataka supported candidates are winning," he said.
"Congress has always stood firmly with farmers and rural India. This has always instilled confidence among people.
Tradition of winning has continued," he tweeted.
Noting that this was a challenging time for the Congress in the state, the former chief minister expressed apprehensions that the BJP might lure its winning candidates to switch over.
The JD(S) has not yet made any statement on the poll outcome.