Bangalore: The ruling BJP in Karnataka appeared set to lose its first-ever government in the south as trends showed the party faced the prospect of finishing in the third position with Congress moving ahead with 83 seats.
Trends available for 165 seats showed that the JDS of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is faring better than expected leading in 40 segments while the BJP was ahead only in 26 constituencies.
Karnataka Janatha Paksha of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was leading in seven constituencies, dealing a severe blow to the BJP from which he had broken away and floated his own outfit.
According to the trends, the BJP was faring badly in its traditional strongholds in coastal districts like Dakshina Kannada where the Congress was marching ahead in all the eight constituencies.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar had established a lead of more than 2,000 votes in Hubli-Dharwad Central.
Congress' Chief Ministerial aspirant and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah (Varuna in Mysore) was leading.
The BJP has yielded ground to Congress in areas where it had drawn much of its electoral strength in the 2008 polls in Hyderabad-Karnataka and Bombay-Karnataka regions, as also surprisingly to JDS.
Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa (Shimoga) and Industries Minister Murugesh R Nirani (Bilagi) were trailing.