Bangalore: Around 15 percent of over 350,000 eligible voters had cast their ballots in the first four hours of polling on Monday in the two Assembly by-polls in Karnataka, an election official said here.
"The polling process is picking up after a dull start and around 15 percent of 210,000 voters in Gulbarga South and 177,000 in Kadur had cast their votes by 11.00 am," a spokesperson for the state election authority said.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are locked in triangular contests in the two by-elections necessitated by the death of sitting members, KM Krishnamurthy (Congress-Kadur) and Chandrashekar Patil Revoor (BJP-Gulbarga South).
Among the early voters in Gulbarga South was Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge.
The candidates of the three parties in both the constituencies have also voted, the spokesperson said.
The Congress has fielded Ajay Singh, son of former chief minister N Dharam Singh, in Gulbarga South. BJP nominee Sashil Namoshi is a senior party leader and member of the Legislative Council while the JD-S has roped in Revoor`s widow Aruna Patil.
In Kadur, the Congress candidate is KM Kemparaju, brother of Krishnamurhty. The JD-S nominee is party spokesperson YSV Datta and the BJP has fielded is YC Vishwanath, a medical practitioner in the area. Datta and Vishwanath had lost in Kadur in the 2008 Assembly polls.
Counting will take place on September 16. Though the outcome will not affect the stability of the first BJP government in the state and South India, it will impact the morale of all the three parties and the image of its leaders.
There are 11 candidates in Gulbarga South. The fight is among nominees of the three parties. The remaining eight are Independents.
Kadur has only three candidates - one each from the BJP, Congress and the JD-S.
Winning Gulbarga South is particularly crucial for Dharam Singh and Kharge as the two are considered undisputed leaders of the party in the district.
The Congress has been faring poorly in the several by-polls held after the 2008 Assembly elections that brought the BJP to power -- the first southern state where the party is ruling on its own.
A victory for the JD-S in Gulbarga South will give a boost to its morale as the party has little presence in north Karnataka.
The nearly two-week campaign was dominated by the illegal mining issue with the three parties blaming one another for encouraging it.