Voting for the bypolls to the three Lok Sabha and two assembly constituencies in Karnataka began, which is seen as a litmus test for the ruling Congress-JDS coalition.Bypolls to Shivamogga, Mandya, and Ramanagara Lok Sabha seats, and Ballari and Jamkhandi assembly segments began at 7 am and will go on till 6 pm.
A total of 54,54,275 voters are eligible to cast their franchise in about 6,450 polling stations.There are a total 31 candidates in the fray in all the five constituencies, though the contest is mainly between the Congress-JDS combine and the BJP. Counting of votes will be on Tuesday.
Officials at the state chief electoral officer’s office said a total of 1,502 polling stations had been declared as sensitive.More than 35,000 polling personnel will be on duty for the bypolls, in which 8,922 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines will be used, they added.Senior police officials said elaborate security arrangements had been made in all the five constituencies.
The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), who came together in a post-poll alliance after the assembly elections in May threw up a hung House, have decided to fight the polls unitedly against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
While the Congress has fielded its candidates in Jamkhandi and Ballari, the JDS is contesting in Shivamogga, Ramanagara and Mandya under an electoral understanding.
The outcome of the by-elections is expected to have a bearing on the alliance between the two ruling parties for the parliamentary polls and also be a factor in determining the respective bargaining power.