66.59% of voters in Karnataka by polls

BENGALURU: The crucial election by 15 electoral districts of the assembly that would influence the stability of the BJP government led by B S Yediyurappa saw 66.49 percent of voters participate on Thursday and was generally peaceful.

After a slow pace in the first half of the day since the elections began at 7 am with only 33 percent until 1.30 pm, the vote recovered later in the day, although it was lower than the percentage recorded in the elections of the assembly in 2018.

The four constituencies of the city registered a low electoral participation.

Authorities said approximately 66.49 percent of the eligible voters of 37.78 lakh cast their votes in the 15 segments until 6pm. The number is likely to increase, as in some places people who queue to close are allowed to vote.

According to the available figures, the largest share of 90.44 percent was recorded in Hosakote, while the lowest was 43.55 percent in K R Pura here.

The other three constituencies of the city have also registered a relatively minor share, Mahalakshi Layout 50.92 percent, Shivajinagar 44.60, Yeshwanthpura 54.13 percent.

Participation in other constituencies are: Athani- 75.23 percent, Kagwad 76.27, Gokak 73.08, Yellapur 77.52, Hirekerur 78.63, Ranebennur 73.53, Vijayanagara 64.95, Chikkaballapura 86.40, K R Pete 80 and Hunsur- 80.71, officials said.

Elections are held to fill vacancies caused by the disqualification of 17 Congressional rebels and JD (S) MLA, whose revolt led to the collapse of the coalition government led by Kumaraswamy HD in July and paved the way for the BJP to arrive to power

The BJP needs to win at least six of the seats to remain in the majority in the 225-member assembly (including the President, who has a quality vote), which would still have two vacant seats: Maski and R R Nagar.

In the assembly with the current strength of 208 after the disqualifications, the BJP has 105 MLA (including an independent), Congress 66 and the JD (S) has 34 MLA.

There is also a BSP member, a nominated member and the speaker.

While the BJP expressed confidence that people will vote for the party for stability and development, Congress and JD (S) are optimistic that voters will defeat defectors, who have been disqualified and are now the candidates of the ruling party.

BJP has presented 13 of the 16 disqualified lawmakers, who joined the party after the Supreme Court allowed them to challenge the partial elections, as their candidates from their respective constituencies from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections in Congress and JD (S) tickets.

While in most of the electoral districts that participated in the polls there was direct competition between Congress and the BJP, in the southern parts of the state JD (S) enters the scene, which makes it a triangular struggle.

However, in Hosakote, the BJP rebel and independent candidate supported by JD (S) Sharth Bachegowda is a key factor.

Speculation abounds that Congress and JD (S) are not reluctant to join hands once again to form a coalition government in case the BJP does not obtain the required number of seats to remain in the majority.

In addition to Prime Minister B S Yediyurappa, whose future government is at stake, the results of the list are crucial for the CLP leader who faced growing discontent against his unilateral style of operation and the selection of candidates for elections.

The result of the survey is also highly anticipated by JD (S) 'Kumaraswamy, which aims to keep his group together amid threats of further internal disputes.

Among the 15 electoral districts that attended the elections, 12 were conducted by Congress and three by JD (S).

A total of 4,185 polling stations were installed in the 15 constituencies.

The fate of 165 candidates, 156 men and nine women, were sealed in the voting machines.

While BJP and Congress had 15 candidates each in the fray, the number of JD (S) candidates was 12. The remaining were all from smaller and independent parties.

Surveys have been generally peaceful, except for some incidents lost in discussions between political party workers and with the police in some places like in, authorities said.

Tension prevailed in Hunsur after a police officer allegedly asked MLA C Anil and his supporters to move away from the voting center.

There were reports of malfunction of electronic voting machines due to technical problems in some places like Singayyanapalya in K R Pura, Athani and Hunsur, among others, but they were corrected and voting resumed, authorities said.

Older people and citizens with different abilities came out in good numbers to cast their votes in various places.

Preliminary polls were previously scheduled for October 21, but the Electoral Commission postponed them until December 5 in view of the suspension of petitions in the Supreme Court that challenged the disqualification of the 17 MLA.

The cusp court last month allowed them to challenge the polls, while maintaining their disqualification by the then speaker of the assembly.