Campaign ends for bypolls to 2 assembly segments, 1 LS seat in K'taka

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Bengaluru, Apr 15 (PTI) The high voltage campaign by political parties for the April 17 bypolls to Belgaum Lok Sabha, and Maski and Basavakalyan assembly segments came to a close on Thursday evening.

The political campaign saw the ruling BJP and Congress battling out in all three constituencies, while JD(S) limited itself to Basavakalyan, as the regional party has not fielded any candidates in Maski and Belgaum.

The campaigning was intense even on its last day with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa himself leading from the front for the BJP at Belgaum, while state Congress Chief D K Shivakumar canvassed for the party candidate in Maski.

JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy who has been camping in Basavakalyana, campaigning for party candidate, cancelled the roadshow and mega rally today citing increasing COVID cases as the reason.

The saffron party saw the who's who of the state unit from Chief Minister Yediyurappa to his cabinet Ministers to central ministers like Pralhad Joshi and party national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh on a campaign blitz in favour of its candidate, and to keep the winning streak going.

Though the outcome of these bypolls will in no way have its impact on the stability of the government, it is in a way crucial for Yediyurappa to consolidate his position within the party, amid growing resentment within, against his leadership.

The BJP that sought votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and work done by governments both at the Centre and the state is looking forward to keeping the winning momentum on, as it has won most of the bypolls after coming to power in the state.

Expressing confidence about BJP's win in all the three constituencies, Yediyurappa in Belagavi said, 'Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar have been talking lightly, voters will give them a reply.

Once the results are out, they will realise what is their strength and what is ours.' For Congress, its campaign was led by legislature party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC President D K Shivakumar and host of senior party leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary in-charge of the state Randeep Singh Surjewala among others.

The leaders of the party targeted the BJP government and personally the chief Minister on charges of corruption and maladministration, and accused them of having failed in managing the financial situation of the state, COVID crisis among others.

The Congress described the BJP-led government as 'worst' they have seen so far and asked it to quit and make way for President's rule, as they also tried to give mileage to speculations about CM change after the bypolls, pointing at internal squabbling and corruption charges from within the ruling BJP.

The Congress that has been targeting the ruling party on a host of issues, including impropriety following the sex scandal involving its former Minister, is hoping to make a mark by winning all the seats.

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

By-polls to Belgaum Lok Sabha and Basavakalyan Assembly seats are 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 fell vacant following the disqualification of MLA Prathapagouda Patil, who had won in 2018 from Congress and is now with the BJP.

The bypolls for which the counting will take place on May 2, has a total of 30 candidates in the fray, out of them 10 are from Belgaum, 12 from Basavakalyan and Maski 8.

Among 30 candidates, while 26 are men, among 4 women include two from Basavakalyan and one each from Belgaum and Maski.

The ruling BJP has fielded Mangala Suresh Angadi, the wife of late Suresh Angadi, from Belgaum Lok Sabha seat.

Pratapagouda Patil, who quit Congress and joined the party is its candidate in Maski assembly segment; while youth leader Sharanu Salagar has been fielded in Basavakalyan.

BJP rebel and former MLA Mallikarjun Khuba is in the fray as an independent candidate from Basavakalyan.

The Congress has fielded its state working president Satish Jarkiholi, who is currently the MLA of Yamkanmaradi assembly segment, as its candidate from Belgaum.

Mallamma, the wife of late legislator B Narayan Rao is the grand old party's candidate from Basavakalyan seat, while Basanagouda Turvihal, who recently joined the party has been fielded in Maski segment.

JD(S) has named Syed Yasrab Ali Quadri, who was with the Congress earlier as its candidate from Basavakalyan, the party has not fielded anyone from Maski and Belgaum.

A total of 22,68,038 voters (including service) are eligible to cast their votes on April 17 at 3,197 polling stations in the three constituencies, where 8,052 ballot units, 7,018 control units and 6,366 VVPATS will be deployed.

For the smooth conduct of polls that will be held by following COVID guidelines, a total of 6 CoYs of CRPF have been deployed for security, 4 CoYs for Belgaum and one each for Basavakalyan and Maski segments, poll officials said. PTI KSU ROH ROH