Stage set for bypolls to one LS seat, 2 assembly segments in Karnataka on Saturday

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Bengaluru, Apr 16 (PTI) The stage is set for bypolls to one Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies in Karnataka on Saturday, where over 22.68 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes.

By-elections to Belgaum Lok Sabha and Maski and Basavakalyan Assembly segments will begin at 7 AM on Saturday and will go on till 7 PM, where a total of 30 candidates are in the fray.

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

As many as 26 out of the total 30 candidates are men, among 4 women include two from Basavakalyan and one each from Belgaum and Maski.

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

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

Among voters from all the three segments, over 11.37 lakh are men, and over 11.22 lakh are women.

Counting of votes will take place on May 2.

The ruling BJP and opposition Congress are battling it out in all three constituencies, while JD(S) has 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 speculations 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.

Meanwhile, the Congress which has been targeting the ruling party for its alleged failures in providing good administration, corruption and impropriety following the sex scandal 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 to make it big in Basavakalyan, which he has said is the party's 'stronghold'.

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

Pratapagouda Patil, who quit the Congress and joined the party as its candidate in the 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.

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

The 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.

For the smooth conduct of polls that will be held by following the 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 SS PTI PTI