Bengaluru: Voting began in 15 Assembly segments in Karnataka where by-elections are being held to fill the vacancies caused by the resignation and disqualification of the 14 Congress and 3 JD-S rebels in July, an official said.
“Polling began at 7:00 a.m. in all the 15 Assembly constituencies amid tight security to elect the new legislators. Voting will be allowed till 6:00 p.m.,” an Election Commission official told IANS here.
By-elections are being held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K.R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K.R. Pete and Hunsur Assembly seats. The polls on these seats were necessitated following the disqualification of 17 MLAs who had resigned from the assembly in July over their differences with the Congress-JD(S) coalition government. The elections for 15 out of 17 seats are being held today since the poll body had withheld the elections for two seats — Maski and Rajarajeshwari — as the petitions against these Assembly constituencies are pending in the Karnataka High Court.
The 15 constituencies have nearly 38-lakh eligible voters, including 19.25-lakh men and 18.52-lakh women. “The Election Commission has declared paid leave for the voters working in public or private offices to exercise franchise in their polling stations,” asserted the official. As many as 165 candidates, including 126 Independents and 9 women are in the fray in the 15 Assembly seats. The BJP and the opposition Congress are contesting in all the 15 assembly seats, while the JD-S only in 12 seats. The 3,185 polling stations have a total of 8,326 ballot units and 8,186 controlling units and 7,876 VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) for casting the ballots.
The by-polls are very crucial for all the three major parties-BJP, Congress and the JDS. The decision can make or break the government in the state. In July, the Congress-JD(S) coalition government led by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had collapsed after 17 of its MLAs resigned. The resignations also reduced the majority mark in 224-strong Assembly to 104. The BJP with its 105 MLAs formed the government in the state. Now with by-polls on these vacant seats, the majority mark would increase.
At present, there are 207 MLAs in Karnataka Assembly with 104 required for a majority. Now with the election of 15 MLAs, the number of MLAs in the Assembly would go to 222. With that, the ruling party would require 112 MLAs for a majority in the Assembly. Elections for two other seats will be held in future which will take the majority mark to 113.
The vote count is on December 9.
Who are locking horns?
Athani: Mahesh Kumatalli (BJP), Gajanan Mangasuli (Congress) Dr Naganath V Yadhir (UPP)
Kagwad: Srimanthgouda Patil (BJP), RAju Kage (Congress), Shrishailappa Tugashetty (JDS)
Gokak: Ramesh Jarakiholi (BJP), Lakhan Jarakiholi (Congress), Ashok Poojary (JDS)
Hirekerur: BC Patil (BJP), B H Bannikod (Congress), Devendrappa (UPP)
Yellapura: Hebbar Shivram (BJP), Bhimanna Naik (Congress) Chaithra Gowda A (JDS)
Ranibennur: Arun Kumar Guthur (BJP), KB Koliwad (Congress), Mallikarjunappa (JDS)
Vijaynagara: Anand Singh (BJP), Venkatrao Ghorpade (Congress), NM Nabi (JDS)
Chickballapura: Dr K Sudhakar (BJP), M Anjanappa (Congress), N Radhakrishna (JDS)
K.R. Pura: Byrathi Basavaraj (BJP), M Narayanswamy (Congress), C Krishnamurthy (JDS)
Yeshwanthpura: ST Somashekar (BJP), P Nagaraj (Congress), TN Javarai Gowda (JDS)
Mahalakshmi Layout: N Gopalaiah (BJP), M Shivaraju (Congress), Dr Girish K Nashi (JDS)
Shivajinagara: M Saravana (BJP), Rizwan Arshad (Congress), Tanveer Ahmedullah (JDS)
Hosakote: N Nagaraj aka MTB (BJP), PAdmavathi Suresh (Congress), Sharath Bachegowda (Independent)
K.R. Pete: KC Narayana Gowda (BJP, KB Chandrashekar (Congress), Devraj BL (JDS)
Hunsur: H Vishwanath (BJP), HP Manjunath (Congress), Somashekar (JDS)