An estimated 76 and 78 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the bypolls to Nanjanagud and Gundlupet Assembly constituencies in Karnataka today.
“The voter turnout in Nanjanagud was around 76 per cent and about 78 per cent at Gundlupet tentatively at 5 PM,” the Election Commission officials said.
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha had earlier told PTI that the voter turnout has been “very good” and that the elections have been by and large peaceful.
The polls were necessitated in Gundulpet and Nanjanagud following the death of Cooperation Minister Mahadeva Prasad and resignation of V Srinivas Prasad as a Congress MLA after he was dropped from the ministry.
Srinivas Prasad is now the BJP candidate from Nanjangud while Congress has fielded Kalale Keshavamurthy, who had contested the 2013 Assembly polls on a JD(S) ticket.
In Gundlupet, the Congress has fielded Mahadeva Prasad’s wife Geeta Mahadeva Prasad and the BJP, C S Niranjan Kumar as its candidate.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s JD(S) has decided not to field its candidates for the by-polls and remain neutral.
The stakes are high for both ruling Congress and BJP, particularly so for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as he aims to continue his grip over the party and the government ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, even as he faces dissidence from the party’s old guard.
With both constituencies being Congress seats and in his home turf, winning the bypoll has become a prestige issue for Siddaramaiah, who had devoted the last eight days for the campaign crisscrossing both the constituencies.
Counting of votes will take place on April 13. On the other hand, for Yeddyurappa too results of these polls are important to have his dominance in the ticket distribution for the next year Assembly elections.
The Lingayat strongman who had camped in the two constituencies for the last 26 days for campaigning, also faces dissonance within the party over his “unilateral” style of functioning.
A total of 12 candidates are in the fray in Nanjanagud constituency, which has 2,01,815 voters.
In Gundlupete, nine candidates are in the fray, where there are a total of 2,00,860 voters.
Along with police and home guard personnel, Karnataka State Reserve Police, District Armed Reserve and Central Armed Police Force units or platoons had been deployed for the bypolls, officials said.