46.62 per cent voting till afternoon in Karnataka assembly bypolls

The ruling BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority

India Elections A polling agent browses through the voters list to find the name of a woman outside a polling station in Bengaluru | AP

An estimated 46.62 per cent of the electorate cast their ballot till 3 pm on Thursday in 15 assembly constituencies of Karnataka, where bypolls are underway that will determine the fate of the B.S. Yediyurappa-led BJP government.

There was 56.05 per cent voter turnout in Athani, 51.41 in Kagwad, 53.30 in Gokak and 59.86 per cent at KR Pet constituency in Mandya

The byelections are being held to fill the vacancies caused by the disqualification of 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs, whose rebellion led to the collapse of the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led Congess-JD(S) coalition government in July and paved the way for the BJP to come to power.

The ruling BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority in the 225-member assembly (including the Speaker, who has a casting vote), which would still have two vacant seats— Maski and RR Nagar.

While the BJP feels that the people of the constituencies will vote in favour of the party for stability and development, the Congress and JD(S) are optimistic that the voters will back them to defeat the defectors, who have been disqualified.

The BJP has fielded 13 of the 16 disqualified legislators, who joined the party, as its candidates from their respective segments from where they had won in the 2018 assembly elections on Congress and JD(S) tickets.

Speculation is rife about Congress and JD(S) not being averse to joining hands once again to form a coalition government in case the BJP fails to garner the required number of seats to stay in majority.

Among 15 constituencies going to the bypolls, 12 were held by Congress and three by JD(S).

Bypolls have been by and large peaceful, barring some stray incidences of argument between workers of political parties and also with police at some places.

There were reports of EVM malfunction due to technical glitch in some places like in Singayyanapalya in K R Puram, and in Athani, but they have been set right and voting was underway.

Senior citizens and differently-abled citizens coming out for voting in good number is among the highlights of these bypolls.

A total of 37,77,970 electors are eligible to cast their votes at 4,185 polling stations in the 15 constituencies.

There are also 4,711 service voters. Among the eligible electors 19,25,529 are men, 18,52,027 women and 414 others. A total of 79,714 are young voters.

A total number of 165 candidates—156 men and nine women—are in the fray for bypolls from all the 15 constituencies.

The BJP and Congress have fielded candidates in all the segments, while JDS candidates are in the fray in 12 constituencies.