The byelections to the three seats of the Legislative Council — all from the local authorities constituencies of Dharwad, Chitradurga and Mysore — scheduled for Thursday has generated much heat thanks to the Opposition parties coming together against the Congress.
Among those in the fray is Pradeep Shettar, brother of the former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, seeking an entry to the State Legislature.
The winners in all the three seats will enjoy only a limited three-year term as the vacancies have arisen following the resignation of three legislators who were elected for a six-year term in 2010.
Voting is scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and counting will take place on Monday.
It should be noted that in the 75-member Legislative Council, a third of the members are elected from the local authorities constituencies (municipal bodies) and they enjoy a six-year term.
The three members who resigned are G.H. Thippa Reddy (Chitradurga), Shivaraj Sajjan (Dharwad) and K.R. Mallikarjunappa (Mysore).
Mr. Thippa Reddy resigned to contest the Assembly elections in May and won from Chitradurga segment.
Mr. Shivaraj Sajjan and Mr. Mallikarjunappa resigned after crossing over to the Karnataka Janata Party from the BJP. They are ardent followers of the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
In a way, the understanding arrived at between the Opposition parties to ensure a direct contest against the candidates of the Congress in the byelections to the two seats of the Lok Sabha (polling took place on Wednesday) has been carried forward in the byelections to the Legislative Council as well.
While the BJP has received the support of the KJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) in Dharwad thus leading to a direct contest, the KJP has received the support of the Janata Dal(S) and the BJP for the Mysore seat.
In Chitradurga, an independent (Congress rebel) Raghu Achar is believed to be enjoying a dominant presence against the candidates of the BJP and the Congress and this has resulted in a triangular contest contrary to the expectations of the Opposition parties.
The Congress candidate is M.A. Sethuram and that of the BJP is K.S. Naveen.
In Mysore, the home district of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the candidate of the Congress is N. Dharmasena and he is engaged in a direct contest with U.S. Shekar of the KJP.
While the Janata Dal(S) refrained from fielding a candidate, the BJP candidate withdrew in the last days of campaigning adding to the clout of the KJP.
It should be noted that in the last Assembly elections, the hold enjoyed by Mr. Siddaramaiah over Mysore district was evident when the Congress won 12 of the 15 Assembly seats.
The byelections to the three seats of the Upper House come close on the heels of the byelections to two Lok Sabha seats (Mandya and Bangalore Rural) and a victory in all these seats is of paramount importance to the ruling Congress and in particular, the Chief Minister.
This is the first round of elections in the State after the Congress assumed power.