Byelections to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka recorded an estimated voters’ turnout of 66.49% on Thursday (December 5). The bypoll results would determine the longevity of the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government.
Polling started at a slow pace at 7 am with only 33% till 1:30, but voting picked up later in the day though it was below the percentage recorded in the assembly elections in 2018. The four constituencies in the city clocked poor voter turnouts.
Officials said an estimated 66.49% of the 37.78 lakh eligible electors cast their votes in the 15 segments till 6 pm. The figure was likely to go up as at some places people standing in queues at close were allowed to vote.
According to the figures available, the highest turnout of 90.44% was recorded in Hosakote while the lowest of 43.25% at K R Pura here. City’s three other constituencies too have recorded comparatively lower turnout, Mahalakshi Layout 50.92%, Shivajinagar 44.60%, Yeshwanthpura 54.13%.
Turnout in other constituencies are: Athani (75.23), Kagwad (76.27), Gokak (73.08), Yellapur (77.52%), Hirekerur (78.63%), Ranebennur (73.53%), Vijayanagara (64.95%), Chikkaballapura (86.40%), K R Pete (80%), and Hunsur (80.71%), officials said.
The by-elections are being held to fill the vacancies caused by the disqualification of 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs, whose rebellion led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy-led Congess-JDS coalition government in July and paved the way for the BJP to come to power.
The ruling BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority in the 225-member assembly (including the speaker, who has a casting vote), which would still have two vacant seats — Maski and RR Nagar.
While the BJP feels that the people of the constituencies will vote in favour of the party for stability and development, the Congress and JD(S) are optimistic that the voters will back them to defeat the defectors, who have been disqualified.
While there was direct contest between Congress and BJP in most constituencies, in the southern parts of the state the JD(S) comes into the picture, making it a triangular fight. In Hoskote, however, independent candidate Sharth Bachegowda is a key factor.
The BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators, who joined the party, as its candidates from their respective segments from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JDS tickets.
Speculation is rife about Congress and JD(S) not being averse to joining hands once again to form a coalition government in case the BJP fails to garner the required number of seats to stay in majority.
Among 15 constituencies going to the bypolls, 12 were held by the Congress and three by JD(S).
Bypolls have been by and large peaceful, barring some stray incidents of arguments between workers of political parties and also with police at some places, like Hunsur. There were reports of EVMs malfunctioning due to technical problems in some places like Singayyanapalya in K R Puram and at Athani, but they have been set right and voting was underway, officials said.
Senior citizens and differently-abled citizens coming out to exercise their franchise in good numbers is among the highlights of the bypolls.
A total number of 165 candidates — 156 men and nine women — are in the fray for the bypolls.
(With inputs from agencies)