Karnataka bye-elections: As bypolls to 15 constituencies across nine districts of Karnataka were held Thursday, 66.25 per cent electors cast their vote, official statistics from the Election Commission of India indicated.
While the highest turnout was recorded in Hoskote (86.77 per cent), situated 30 kilometres off Bengaluru city, all four constituencies in the capital city witnessed a poor turnout.
KR Puram saw the least voter turnout in the state (43.25 per cent), while Shivajinagar (44.60 per cent), Mahalakshmi Layout (50.92 per cent), and Yeshwantpur (54 per cent) disappointed when compared to other constituencies.
The voter turnout in other constituencies was as follows:
Athani – 75.23 per cent; Kagwad – 76.27 per cent; Gokak – 73.08 per cent; Yellapur – 77.52 per cent; Hirekerur – 78.63 per cent; Ranebennur – 73.53 per cent; Vijayanagar – 64.95 per cent; Chikkaballapura – 86.19 per cent; KR Pete – 80.00 per cent; Hunsur – 80.62 per cent.
The seats fell vacant after 17 rebel MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) parties defected to the BJP in a bid to bring down the coalition government. The MLAs were subsequently disqualified from the House but were allowed by the Supreme Court to the contest bypolls.
However, elections to two seats — Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Maski — were not held on Thursday as separate election petitions challenging the results of the 2018 elections are still pending in the Karnataka High Court.
Major political rivals in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress continued to accuse each other of violating the Model Code of Conduct in place for the elections even on polling day.
The Congress wrote to the Election Commission (EC) demanding action against BJP leaders and associates for allegedly distributing cash to voters in three constituencies – Yellapur, KR Puram, and Yeshwantpur.
“We also urge upon to find out the BJP leaders and workers who distributed cash… and take action against them to uphold the laws of the land and in interest of free and fair elections,” the letter addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) reads.
Meanwhile, the BJP wrote to the (CEC) seeking action against Jewargi Congress MLA Ajay Jewargi for allegedly campaigning in Shivajinagar for Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad on polling day.
Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah Thursday alleged the BJP of ‘buying out’ 17 MLAs from the former Congress-JD(S) coalition.
Addressing the media in Gadag, the former Karnataka chief minister said, “BJP does not have any moral ground to stay in power in Karnataka..They attained power by taking the backdoor and formed the government by indulging in horse-trading.”
He added, “They (BJP) then forced 17 MLAs to resign, thereby, destroying democracy.”
When asked whether a Congress-JD(S) post-poll alliance was brewing, he said, “No such talks have happened between the parties.”
Taking a jibe at his political rivals Congress and JD(S), Karnataka RDPR Minister K S Eshwarappa said the chief minister’s chair was not vacant yet for Congress leaders to hold discussions on deciding their CM nominee. “Let Siddarmaiah save his designation as the leader of opposition first before thinking about becoming the CM. Such discussions taking place in Congress and JD(S) camps are nothing but laughable,” said the senior BJP leader.
The results, which will be out on December 9, will decide the fate of the four-month-old Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government.