Even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was defeated in the Karnataka assembly elections, the party retained its traditional stronghold in the coastal region by securing victories in 11 of the 13 constituencies in the twin districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
The Congress crossed the 113-seat mark in the election, the majority required to form the government, in the 224-member assembly for which counting of votes took place on Saturday.
While Congress leader and former minister U T Khader won from Mangaluru constituency for the fifth time, BJP lost the Puttur seat to the Congress with the presence of rebel candidate Arun Kumar Puthila, who came second in the constituency, eating up into its votes.
Puthila gained leads till the 12th round of counting after which Congress candidate Ashok Kumar Rai went ahead of him in the final rounds, registering a margin of over 4,000 votes over the rebel candidate scoring 66,607 votes.
Puthila got 62,458 votes, while BJP candidate Asha Thimmappa was far behind with 37,558.
In Mangaluru South, sitting MLA Vedavyas Kamath of BJP secured an easy victory over Congress candidate J R Lobo, while in Udupi, BJP's Yashpal Suvarna scored a huge win over Congress candidate Prasadraj Kanchan by more than 30,000 votes.
In Mangaluru North, BJP's Bharat Y Shetty defeated Inayat Ali of Congress, while the Congress rebel and Janata Dal-Secular candidate Mohiuddin Bava could muster only around 5,000 votes, while in the South constituency, it was smooth sailing for Vedavyas Kamath of BJP over congress candidate J R Lobo, who won with a margin of over 25,000 votes.
The BJP also won in Moodbidri where incumbent MLA Umanath Kotian registered comfortable victory over Mithun Rai of Congress by a margin of over 20,000 votes, while in Sullia, BJP candidate Bhagirathi Muruliya won over G Krishnappa of Congress by around 30,000 votes.
Harish Poonja (Belthangady) and Rajesh Naik (Bantwal) also retained their seats for the BJP defeating Rakshith Shivaram and Ramanath Rai of Congress respectively in Dakshina Kannada district.
Besides registering a thumping win in the prestigious seat of Udupi through Suvarna, the BJP also retained the Karkala seat, with state minister V Sunil Kumar winning over Congress candidate Udaya Shetty Muniyal by around 5,000 votes, despite a spirited campaign by Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Muthalik, who garnered only around 4,500 votes.
In Kundapur, Kiran Kumar Kodgi of the BJP scored an easy win over Congress nominee Dinesh Hegde, while in Byndoor, Congress candidate Gopala Poojary gave a tight fight against Gururaj Gantihole of BJP before conceding defeat.
The BJP also retained its Kaup seat in the district through Gurme Suresh Shetty by sailing past former minister and Congress candidate Vinay Kumar Sorake.
On the Congress victory in the state, U T Khader told reporters that the people have voted for a sensible and intelligent party.
People who were burdened by price rise and unemployment understood the agenda of the BJP and have given a clear mandate to the Congress, he added.
On the setback for Congress in the coastal region, he said the matter will be discussed in the party.
BJP workers celebrated their overwhelming victory in the twin districts at several places.
Umanath Kotian, who retained his Moodbidri seat, said the people in the constituency have given a clear mandate for his developmental works.
Mangaluru South MLA Y Bharath Shetty said it is a victory of the people. It remains to be seen whether the Congress will keep its assurances to the people, he said.
Mangaluru North MLA Vedavyas Kamath said the votes in the constituency have blessed him with a repeat victory, while Belthangady MLA Harish Poonja also expressed his gratitude to the electorate.