45 pc polling till 2.30 pm in Karna assembly bypolls

M. Veerappa Moily

With the bypoll to Nanjangud and Gundlupet concluding on Sunday, poll pundits may be finding it tough to predict the outcome, but gamblers in the state's illegal betting market, or satta, or matka, are betting high on the BJP.

An estimated 76 and 78 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the bypolls to Nanjanagud and Gundlupet Assembly constituencies in Karnataka on Sunday.

Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha had earlier told PTI that the voter turnout has been "very good" and that the elections have been by and large peaceful.

Officials said Nanjanagud and Gundlupet each reported around 45 per cent voting. Around 700 voters of Mahadevanagara village in Nanjangud have boycotted the election protesting lack of basic amenities.

"The electorate were not willing to exercise their franchise in protest".

Congress leader V. Hanumanta Rao alleged that the former Chief Minister and current BJP president has been caught red handed while giving bribes to the family of the deceased farmer who committed suicide ahead of the by-polls. Criticising the incident, Congress party called it to be a case of violation of the model code of conduct.

While the Nanjangud constituency became vacant after former minister V Srinivas Prasad resigned after being dropped from the Siddaramaiah ministry, the by-election to the Gundlupet constituency became necessary after former minister Dr HS Mahadevaprasad died of a heart attack.

In Gundlupet, Congress has fielded Mahadeva Prasad's wife Geeta Mahadeva Prasad while the BJP nominee is C S Niranjan Kumar. Seven more are in the fray.

The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) has not contested in the bye-polls, ostensibly for the reason that the next assembly elections are a year away in April 2018.

The counting of votes is scheduled on April 13 and the results in the straight contest between the ruling Congress and the principal Opposition BJP in both the constituencies will be decided.

There were, however, instances of malfunctioning of voter verifiable paper audit trial (VVPAT) and electronic voting machines (EVMs) in at least two booths in Nanjangud and six in Gundlupet.

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