Bangalore: Campaigning drew to a close on Monday to the August 21 Lok Sabha by-elections in Mandya and Bangalore Rural that kicked up acrimonious and bitter canvassing by the contending parties -- the ruling Congress and JDS.
The BJP is backing JDS candidates in the two segments, where bypoll was necessitated following the resignation of N Cheluvarayaswamy (Mandya) and HD Kumaraswamy (Bangalore Rural) who quit after being elected to the Assembly in May.
JDS of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda is leaving no stone unturned to retain the two seats, and has fielded Kumaraswamy`s wife Anita from Bangalore Rural, and CS Puttaraju in Mandya.
Leading Kannada actor Ramya is Congress candidate from Mandya, and DK Suresh, brother of senior Congress leader and MLA DK Shivakumar from Bangalore Rural.
It has turned out to be a prestigious battle between the Congress and JDS.
Mandya is a stronghold of JDS, which won five of the eight Assembly seats in the district in the May elections but saw desertions from former Speaker Krishna and former MLA Kalpana Siddaraju in the region in the run-up to the polls.
The Congress faced factionalism in Mandya, where the district-in-charge and Housing Minister MH Ambarish and former Chief Minister SM Krishna do not reportedly see eye-to-eye casting a shadow over campaigning.
In Bangalore Rural, where the former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had won by 1.3 lakh votes in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has secured the support of Samajwadi Party MLA, CP Yogeeshwara, who reigned supreme in Channapatna Assembly segment defeating Anita in May.
The JDS has shied away from publicly acknowledging electoral understanding with the BJP, insisting that the objective is to defeat the Congress and it can`t refuse support if other parties voluntarily back it.
BJP`s decision to support JDS has raised considerable eye-brows. A section of the BJP felt the party should have fielded candidates to make its presence felt even though it can`t fancy wins at both segments. They noted that the BJP had recorded 3.63 lakh votes in Bangalore Rural in 2009.
JDS is viewing the bypolls as a "matter of survival for it" as it had won only three Lok Sabha seats in 2009, while the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, all set to complete 100 days in office after being sworn in to the post on May 13, is keen to see the Congress winning momentum continue.