Bengaluru: Even as voting in Karnataka`s 15 Assembly by-elections was brisk to moderate in many segments since afternoon, an estimated 60 per cent polling has been recorded till 5:24 pm on Thursday (December 5). There are nearly 38 lakh eligible voters, including 19.25 lakh men and 18.52 lakh women, in these 15 constituencies.
As many as 165 candidates, including 126 Independents and 9 women are in the fray. The BJP and the opposition Congress are contesting in all the 15 Assembly seats, while the JD-S is contesting only in 12 seats.
According to reports, the highest turnout of 79.8 per cent was recorded in Chikkaballapura, while the lowest voting of 37.5 per cent was witnessed at KR Puram in Bengaluru. The two other constituencies in Bengaluru --Mahalakshi - 40.47 per cent, Shivajinagar- 41.13--also recorded lower turnout.
The voting turnout in other constituencies, include Athani- 70.73 per cent, Kagwad- 69.76, Gokak- 66.64, Yellapur- 72.23, Hirekerur- 72.42, Ranebennur- 67.92, Vijayanagara- 58.93, Yeshwanthpura- 48.34, Hoskote- 76.19, K R Pete- 75.87, and Hunsur- 74.47, according to information available on Karnataka election commission website.
The by-elections took place in the wake of the disqualification of 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs. Their rebellion led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JDS coalition government in July, paving the way for the BJP to form the government in the state.
The BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified MLAs, who joined the party, as its candidates from their respective seats from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JDS tickets.
Of these 15 seats witnessing the bypolls, 12 were held by the Congress and three by JD(S). A total number of 165 candidates -- 156 men and nine women -- are in the fray for the bypolls.
Barring glitches in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voters names missing in the electoral list in some polling stations in all the assembly seats, voting has been peaceful amid tight security.
Earlier, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa appealed to the electorate to exercise their right to vote in large numbers and strengthen democracy. The bypoll results hold a great significance for the continuation of the BJP government in the state.
The ruling party, which has 105 members, including one independent but excluding the Speaker, needs to win seven more seats to have a majority (112) in the 223-member Assembly, with two vacant and one nominated with voting right.
The Congress has 66 members, JD-S 34 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one.
Though there are 17 vacancies in the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community with voting rights, by-elections in two seats -- Muski (Raichur district) and RR Nagar (Bengaluru) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 Assembly elections.
The BJP has fielded 11 Congress and three JD-S defectors on joining the ruling party on November 14 after the Supreme Court on November 13 allowed them to re-contest though it upheld their disqualification by former Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on July 25-28.
Notably, the counting of votes is scheduled to be held on December 9.
(With Agency Inputs)