The by-elections in five Assembly constituencies in Karnataka — Govindarajanagar (Bangalore Urban district), Ramanagara and Channapatna (Ramanagara district), Kollegal (Chamarajanagar district) and Chitapur (Gulbarga district) — passed off peacefully with large police presence in select pockets.
The election authorities indicated that the polling percentage in the five constituencies together averages around 61.5 per cent and that there could be a small addition since voters were standing in queue at some polling stations even at the closing time of 5 p.m. The byelections were marked by brisk polling through the day.
Byelections were conducted owing to some legislators choosing to contest the recent Lok Sabha elections or resigning from the Assembly to cross over to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Following the defection of legislators from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to the BJP in mid-2008, byelections were held in eight constituencies in December and the BJP had emerged victorious winning five of the eight seats and the Janata Dal (S) winning the remaining three.
Over 60 per cent polling
State Chief Electoral Officer C.S. Suranjana said 61.6 per cent of the 10.10 lakh electorate voted in the byelections.
The percentage of polling in these five constituencies was 58.3 per cent during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 62.13 per cent in the 2008 Assembly elections. With there being no cognisable violations reported, re-polling is out of question in any of the polling stations in the five constituencies.
According to information received from the Returning Officers, Channapatna recorded the highest percentage of polling of 73 while Govindarajanagar, which witnessed a fierce battle between Minister for Muzrai and four-time MLA, V. Somanna of the BJP, and a new entrant to electoral politics, Priya Krishna of the Congress, recorded a low turnout of 48 per cent.
Even in the Lok Sabha elections all the Bangalore-based constituencies recorded a low turnout of around 45 per cent and voter apathy was attributed as the reason then. The percentage of polling was 71 at Ramanagara, 64 at Kollegal and 59 at Chitapur. The latter two are reserved constituencies.
Mr. Suranjana said polling officials replaced electronic voting machines (EVMs) in six places on complaints of malfunctioning at Channapatna , Govindarajangar, Kollegal and Chitapur. A few voters of Chikkadevarahalli (booth No. 180) and Siddayanadoddi (booth No. 117) in Ramanagara constituency boycotted the polls demanding separate polling booths and alleging lack of development works by successive governments.