66.49 percent polling in Karnataka byelections

Voters waiting to exercise their franchise at a booth in Suladal village in Gokak taluk, Karnataka on Thursday.

Voters waiting to exercise their franchise at a booth in Suladal village in Gokak taluk, Karnataka on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: P.K. Badiger

Four Bengaluru segments see poor turnout

The bypolls in the 15 Legislative Assembly constituencies, the results of which will decide the survival of the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government, on Thursday saw a dip in the total voter turnout in most segments barring Gokak in north Karnataka when compared with the polling percentage in the 2018 Assembly elections. The results were be declared on Monday.

There was a stark divide in the rural and urban turnouts, with the four Bengaluru city constituencies seeing poor participation of voters and dragging down the overall estimated average to 66.49%. The highest turnout was in Hoskote segment (86.77%), while the lowest was in the adjoining K.R. Puram constituency in Bengaluru (43.25%).

The bypolls, which were largely peaceful but for a few skirmishes at polling booths, were necessitated owing to the disqualification of 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs, 13 of whom are in the fray on the BJP ticket.

BJP candidate for Hirekerur (left) after casting his vote along with his family in Hirekerur, Karnataka on Thursday.

BJP candidate for Hirekerur (left) after casting his vote along with his family in Hirekerur, Karnataka on Thursday.  

While all rural constituencies saw turnout upwards of 64%, the four constituencies in Bengaluru city limits were at the bottom. K.R. Puram not only saw the least turnout, but also a decrease of over 9.83 percentage points when compared with that in the 2018 Assembly polls.

It was followed by Shivajinagar which recorded 9.5 percentage points lesser turn out than that in the 2018 polls. These two constituencies are the only ones among the 15 to have seen less than half the eligible voters turn up at the booths on Thursday.

Hoskote saw only a marginal decrease in the turnout from the 89.97% it recorded in 2018. In the 2013 elections, this constituency had recorded the State’s highest turnout of 90.97%. Similarly, K.R. Pet and Hunsuru segments recorded a turnout of 80% and 80.62%, respectively.

Election Commission data reveals that only Gokak constituency improved on its voter turnout in the bypolls: at 73.08%, it saw a surge of 1.29 percentage points from that in the 2018 elections.

Minor snags in EVMs

The polls were by and large peaceful except for minor snags reported in some VVPATs, which were changed. There were reports of EVMs developing snags in Mahalakshmi Layout and Athani.

However, a statement from the Election Commission said polling was not hit anywhere and the snags were set right within a few minutes. A negligible 2.37% of the 4,664 VVPATs were replaced during the polling, according to the statement.

Wheelchairs and magnifying glasses

A large number of women and elderly came out to vote this time. The Election Commission had made arrangements of wheelchairs, magnifying glasses, and transport arrangements for persons with disabilities.

Two cases of poll boycott were reported in Vijayanagar and Ranebennur segments. However, district election officers visited the villages and convinced the people to vote, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, the commission has registered FIRs against Independent candidate in Hoskote Sharath Bache Gowda and Hirekerur BJP candidate B.C. Patil for allegedly violating the model code of conduct (MCC) by addressing the press within 100 m from the polling booth. This apart, 13 other cases of poll code violation were reported.

BJP needs 6 seats to remain in power

Stakes are high for the governing BJP, which needs at least six seats to remain in power. The Yediyurappa government enjoys the support of 106 MLAs currently, including an Independent, in the 207-member House. Of the 15 constituencies where the bypolls were held, 12 were earlier held by the Congress and three by the Janata Dal (Secular). Hence, the stakes are also high for the two parties to retain their base.

The total strength of the House in Karnataka is 224 (plus a nominated member), but the resignation of 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs led to the collapse of the earlier Congress–JD(S) coalition government led by H.D. Kumaraswamy, necessitating the bypolls.

Sixteen of the disqualified MLAs have switched loyalties to the BJP and 13 of them are in the bypoll fray as the party’s candidates. Two constituencies — Maski and Rajarajeshwarinagar — did not go to the polls on Thursday on account of pending cases.

The State exchequer is spending over ₹20 crore for the conduct of the bypolls. An additional amount of around ₹10 crore is being spent on revision of electoral rolls and related administrative costs.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 5:21:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-voting-begins-for-by-election-in-15-constituencies/article30173641.ece

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