Updated: April 19, 2021 8:20:19 am
As three constituencies — including two Assembly segments and a Lok Sabha seat— went to bypolls on Saturday, the polling percentage improved in Maski while the same witnessed a drop in Belgaum and Basavakalyan.
As per the estimated voter turnout issued by the Election Commission (EC), Maski recorded the highest voter turnout among the three at 70.48 per cent. The assembly constituency located in Raichur district had recorded a 68.98 per cent turnout during the 2018 elections.
Interestingly, BJP candidate Pratapgouda Patil exercised franchise in a PPE kit when he arrived to vote at the polling booth at a government school in Killa. He had recently tested positive for Covid-19. While the turnout was comparatively lesser till 1 pm (32.51%), it picked up pace after lunch hours despite the scorching summer heat in the north Karnataka district.
Meanwhile, the turnout at Belgaum Lok Sabha constituency was very low in the first two hours. As per EC numbers, the polling percentage till 9 am was just 5.54 per cent. However, more people visited polling booths in the subsequent hours as the turnout was recorded to be estimated at 54.62 per cent. The same in 2019 for the general elections was 67.21 per cent.
While Gokak MLA and former BJP minister Ramesh Jarkiholi gave the polls a miss, his son Amarnath turned up in a PPE kit during the last hour as he had tested positive recently. Congress candidate Satish Jarkiholi and BJP candidate Mangala Angadi also cast their votes following Covid-19 guidelines.
At the same time, Basavakalyan segment in the Bidar district also saw a drop in polling percentage from 64.85 per cent in 2018 to 59.57 per cent this time. The district has been among the top four in the state in terms of Covid-19 caseload since the second wave began.
The Belgaum seat fell vacant after the death of former Union minister of state for Railways Suresh Angadi. The bypoll in Basavakalyan (Bidar) is being held to find a successor to Congress MLA B Narayan Rao. Both leaders succumbed to Covid-19 last September. Maski in Raichur has had no representation in the Assembly since former Congress MLA Pratapgouda Patil gravitated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Counting will take place on May 2, the same day results of the elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry will be declared.
144 cases of Covid-19 violations booked during campaigning: EC
Meanwhile, the EC found 144 violations in total from across the three constituencies where organisers were found failing to adhere to the Covid-19 guidelines. These included rallies attended by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, Home, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Social Welfare Minister B Sriramulu, Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, former ministers Krishna Byre Gowda, M B Patil, H K Patil, and state chiefs of both BJP and Congress Nalin Kumar Kateel and D K Shivakumar respectively.
However, EC officials added that 17 first information reports (FIRs) were filed or are in the process of being filed, including 15 in Basavakalyan segment alone and two in Maski. As many as 75 instances were noted as fines collected from organisers concerned. While campaigns attended by Bommai, Sriramulu and Shettar were among those in which FIRs were filed, another campaign rally by JD(S) leaders in Basavakalayan also attracted an FIR.
The Karnataka High Court had recently directed the Director-General and Inspector General of Police (Praveen Sood) to ensure that the police register first information reports (FIRs) against violators of Covid-19 norms.
Meanwhile, Belagavi reported 1587 new cases and 11 deaths over the last month while Raichur district (which includes Maski constituency) witnessed 967 new infections. At the same time, Bidar (including areas in and around Basavakalyan) was among the top four districts in the state with the highest caseload and fatalities reported in the last month. The north Karnataka district alone confirmed 5537 new infections and 29 fatalities during the same period, according to data issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services.
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