56.37 per cent turnout in bypolls for one LS and 2 assembly seats in Karnataka

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Bengaluru, Apr 17 (PTI) Bypolls held for one Lok Sabha constituency and two assembly segments in Karnataka on Saturday were by and large peaceful and an overall voter turnout of 56.37 per cent was recorded, poll officials said.

While Belgaum Lok Sabha constituency recorded a turnout of 54.35 per cent, Basavakalyan and Maski assembly segments recorded 59.57 and 70.48 per cent respectively.

A total of 22,68,038 voters (including service voters) were eligible to cast their votes at 3,197 polling stations in the three constituencies where voting began at 7 am and ended 7 pm.

A total of 30 candidates were in the fray from all the three constituencies.

While, Belgaum had ten candidates, Basavakalyan and Maski had 12 and 8 respectively.

There were four women and 26 men among the 30 candidates.The four women candidates included two from Basavakalyan and one each from Belgaum and Maski.

Counting of votes will take place on May 2.

Bypolls were held by following strict COVID-19 protocols, especially social distancing, wearing masks, using hand sanitiser, among others, officials said, adding that the last hour was reserved for positive patients or those with symptoms.

By-polls to Belgaum Lok Sabha and Basavakalyan Assembly seats were necessitated following the death of Union Minister Suresh Angadi and MLA B Narayan Rao respectively due to COVID-19 in September last year.

Maski seat had fell vacant following the disqualification of MLA Prathapagouda Patil who had won in 2018 from Congress and is now with the BJP.

The ruling BJP and opposition Congress battled it out in all three constituencies, while JD(S) had limited itself only to Basavakalyan, as the regional party has not fielded any candidates in Maski and Belgaum.

Though the outcome of these bypolls will have no impact on the stability of the government, it is in a way crucial for Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to consolidate his position within the party, amid growing resentment within, against his leadership and speculation that he may be replaced.

The BJP, which has won most of the bypolls after coming to power, is aiming to continue its winning streak.

The Congress that has been targeting the ruling party for its alleged failure in providing good administration, corruption and impropriety following the 'sex scandal' involving its former Minister, is hoping to make a mark by winning seats.

It at least aims to retain Basavakalyan and Maski, which it had won in the 2018 assembly elections.

JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy is also hoping big in Basavakalyan, which he has said is the party's 'stronghold'.

The ruling BJP had fielded Mangala Suresh Angadi, the wife of late Suresh Angadi, from Belgaum Lok Sabha seat, against the state Congress working president Satish Jarkiholi, who is currently the MLA of Yamkanmaradi assembly segment.

While Pratapagouda Patil, who quit Congress and joined the party is the saffron party's candidate in the Maski assembly segment, youth leader Sharanu Salagar was fielded from Basavakalyan.

Congress had put up Mallamma, the wife of late legislator B Narayan Rao, as its candidate from Basavakalyan seat, while Basanagouda Turvihal, who recently joined the party, was fielded in Maski segment.

Turvihal, who was BJP's candidate from Maski in 2018 had lost by a margin of just 213 votes to Prathapagouda Patil, then with the Congress.

The JD(S) had fielded Syed Yasrab Ali Quadri, who was with the Congress earlier, as its candidate from Basavakalyan.PTI KSU BN BN