Karnataka set for crucial Assembly bypolls on Thursday
Karnataka is set for by-elections on Thursday in 15 Assembly constituencies, whose results on December 9 will decide the continuation of the over four-month-old BJP government in the southern state.
"All preparations and arrangements, including tight security have been made to conduct free, fair and peaceful polling in all the 15 Assembly segments across the state's southern and northwest regions on Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m," poll official G. Jadiyappa told IANS here.
By-elections will be held in Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapura, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijaynagara, Chickballapura, K.R. Pura, Yeshwanthpura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara, Hosakote, K.R. Pete and Hunsur.
By-elections in two assembly segments -- Muski (Raichur district) and R.R. Nagar (Bengaluru) have been withheld due to litigation in the Karnataka High Court over their results in the May 2018 Assembly elections.
The 15 constituencies have over 38 lakh voters, including 19.25 lakh males and 18.52 lakh females.
"Voting will be held in 4,185 polling stations, including 884 critical across the 15 Assembly segments, with 5 (constituencies) in the Bengaluru region, 6 in the northwest region, two in the old Mysuru region and one each in northern and southern regions," said Jadiyappa.
The 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 the day-long voting.
As many as 165 candidates, including 126 independents and 9 women are in the fray in the 15 Assembly segments.
The BJP and the opposition Congress are contesting in all the 15 assembly seats, while the JD-S has fielded candidates in 12 seats, which will witness triangular contests.
In three seats - Athani in Belagavi district, Yellapura in Uttara Kannada district and Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district, the contest will be straight between the BJP and the Congress.
The BJP has fielded 11 Congress defectors and 3 JD-S defectors joined the ruling party on November 14 after the Supreme Court on November 13 allowed them to re-contest though it upheld their disqualification by former Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on July 25 and July 28.
The BJP has fielded its former city corporator Sarvana from the prestigious Shivajinagara constituency in Bengaluru central after the party's high command declined to admit former Congress leader Roshan Baig, who represented the seat seven times.
Though the 13-day high-voltage campaigning ended on Tuesday evening peacefully barring stray incidents, all the contestants have hit the streets to canvass door-to-door in their respective constituencies with their supporters and party cadres to woo voters.
"Security has been tightened and vigil stepped up in addition to deployment of additional forces to ensure peaceful polling and prevent any untoward incident in all the 15 Assembly constituencies," a senior police official told IANS here.
In Bengaluru, where by-elections are being held in 4 of the 28 seats - K.R. Pura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Shivajinagara and Yeshwanthapura, deputy police commissioners of the jurisdiction areas have been deputed to supervise the security arrangements.
"Of the 1,064 polling stations in the four Assembly segments across the city, the Election Commission has declared 238 booths as hypersensitive and 826 as sensitive," the official said.
The police also issued a ban order under section 144 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) to prevent assembling of more than five persons while the state excise department prohibited sale of liquor since Tuesday evening to Thursday midnight on the direction of the state's chief electoral officer.
In all, over 21,000 polling officials and about 19,000 security personnel, including the state police and central forces will be on duty in the 15 Assembly segments for conducting the by-elections.
The poll panel's teams, including flying squads seized cash, liquour and other materials valued at a whopping Rs 10.7 crore from political parties, leaders and candidates in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.IANS