Bangalore: Counting of votes for the August 21 by-election to three Assembly seats from Karnataka will be held tomorrow with the outcome being a test of popularity and prestige for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BJP Vice-President B S Yeddyurappa.
Both the ruling Congress and BJP fought a hard battle in the first measure of popularity after the Lok Sabha polls in the constituencies of Chikodi-Sadalaga, Bellary Rural and Shikaripura.
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha today said that elaborate security arrangements have been made in the counting centres in three districts. A number of observers would be deployed at the counting centres to supervise and oversee the process, he said.
Counting will begin at 8 am and end around 1 pm for the three constituencies in which 22 candidates are in the fray.
The poll outcome would be a big test for Siddaramaiah as the Congress, hit by the Modi wave, had not turned up an impressive performance in the Lok Sabha polls, bagging only nine of the 28 seats and conceding 17 to BJP which was not in a good shape after it lost power in the 2013 Assembly polls, losing its first ever government in the South.
JDS had bagged two Lok Sabha seats. Of the three constituencies, Congress is holding Chikkodi-Sadalga and BJP Shikaripura and Bellary Rural.
The Congress went on an overdrive during the elections not only to retain its seat but also to wrest seats held by the BJP.
It is also a prestigious fight for Yeddyurappa, a former Chief Minister, as his son B Y Raghavendra is contesting from Shikaripura, his pocket borough from where the BJP strongman has won seven times.
The seat fell vacant after Yeddyurappa, representing Shikaripura, got elected to Lok Sabha from Shimoga, the seat Raghavendra held earlier.
Siddaramaiah is badly looking for a surprise result in his party`s favour as it would consolidate his own position in the party, where murmurs of discontent are emerging over his style of functioning.
As if to rub salt into the wounds, Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimappa himself said openly last week that there was no difference between the present and the previous BJP governments.
With a lot at stake, Siddaramaiah campaigned vigorously in the elections, as also Yeddyurappa, who was made the party National Vice-President recently.
JDS, which is facing dissatisfaction among a section of its MLAs over the functioning of its supremo and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and his son and former Chief Minster H D Kumaraswamy, has not fielded any candidates.
The Bellary Rural seat fell vacant following the election of B Sriramulu to Lok Sabha. Chikkodi-Sadalga seat was vacated by Prakash Hukkeri consequent to his election to Lok Sabha.