BANGALORE: An estimated 61 per cent of the total 37.78 lakh electors have cast their vote in the by-election held to 15 seats in the Karnatkaka Assembly on Thursday, according to preliminary reports. The results to be announced on December 9 will decide the future of BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka.
According to available turnout figures, the highest turnout of around 80 per cent was recorded in Chikkaballapura, and the lowest of 38 per cent at KR Puram in Bengaluru.
The other two constituencies in Bengaluru too have recorded comparatively lower turnout. The polling in other constituencies Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekerur, Ranebennur, Hoskote, Vijayanagara, Yeshwanthpura, K R Pete and Hunsur was between 55 and 75 per cent, according to reports.
The state had recorded a voter turnout of 72.13 per cent in the Assembly election held in May 2012. This was the highest polling in Karnataka since 1952 assembly polls.
The by-elections are being held to fill the vacancies caused by the disqualification of 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs following their resignation from the Assembly that paved the way for BJP to wrest the power from the Congress-JD (S) coalition. Among 15 constituencies going to the bypolls, 12 were held by the Congress and three by JD(S).
The BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators, who joined the party following the Supreme Court verdict permitting them to re-contest the election, as its candidates from their respective constituencies from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JDS tickets.
The BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority in the 225-member assembly. While the BJP feels that the people of the constituencies will vote in favour of the party for stability and development, the Congress and JD(S) are optimistic that the voters will back them to defeat the defectors, who have been disqualified.
Speculation is rife about Congress and JD(S) not being averse to joining hands once again to form a coalition government in case the BJP fails to garner the required number of seats to stay in majority. The Congress on Sunday indicated it was not averse to joining hands with JD(S) once again. However, JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda's contradictory statement on the issue indicate that the regional party is still to make up its mind.
Currently, the BJP government enjoys a slender majority in the Assembly with the support of 106 MLAs, while the Congress-JDS Opposition has the support of 101 MLAs. Most of the constituencies going for the by polls are facing a direct contest between Congress and BJP but in the southern parts of the state, the JD(S) has entered the fray, making it a triangular fight.
The by-elections have been by and large peaceful, barring some stray incidents of arguments between workers of political parties and also with police at some places.
There were reports of EVMs malfunctioning due to technical problems in some places like Singayyanapalya in KR Puram and at Athani, but they have been set right and voting was resumed.
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