In some polling booths, police and party workers outnumbered voters

A lacklustre voter turnout marked the Lok Sabha bypolls to Mandya and Bangalore Rural constituencies on Wednesday, which saw a straight fight between the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), the latter supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The polling percentage was 58.51 in Mandya and 50.93 in Bangalore Rural. While the turnout was very poor in the first half of the day, it improved towards the end of the polling. Voting was completely peaceful, according to Anil Kumar Jha, Chief Electoral Officer.

The response in the keenly-fought Bangalore Rural constituency — where D.K. Suresh, brother of Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, was pitted against Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of H.D. Kumaraswamy — was markedly poor till late in the afternoon. The poll percentage was just 30 per cent at 3 p.m. In some polling booths, police personnel and political party workers outnumbered the voters.

Highs and lows

While Bangalore South Assembly segment within the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency recorded the lowest turnout at 27 per cent, Kunigal recorded the highest at 63.39 per cent.

The situation was similar in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, which had Congress fielding actor Ramya against C.S. Puttaraju of the JD(S). Polling was just 32.76 per cent at 2 p.m. here. The percentage of voting was the highest in Melukote segment in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency at 68.04 per cent, while it was lowest at 50.17 per cent in Mandya Assembly segment.

A peculiar feature in Mandya was that a majority of voters were in their agricultural fields due to sowing activities, one of the reasons for the poor turnout. Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (CNNL) has been discharging water to the canals of the Cauvery command area and agriculture operations are in full swing across the constituency.

Several voters in Mandya described the byelections as “irrelevant”. There were instances of some village residents refraining from voting for some time: Gundapur in Malavalli and Aichanahalli in K.R. Pet boycotted elections, demanding infrastructure in their villages. However, they were persuaded to exercise their franchise.

Nagaraju and Shravankumar at Manna Halli in Mandya said the Election Commission should restrict elected representatives from tendering resignations before their term. The bypoll in Mandya and Bangalore Rural were necessitated following the resignation of N. Cheluvaryaswamy (Mandya) and H.D. Kumaraswamy (Bangalore Rural), both from the JD(S), who quit after being elected to the Legislative Assembly in the elections held in May.