Bengaluru, May 2 (IANS): The votes polled during the by-elections to the Belgaum parliamentary constituency and two Assembly segments in Karnataka -- Maski in Raichur district and Basavakalyana in Bidar district -- on April 17 will be counted on Sunday.
The outcome of the bypolls, held amid the raging second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the state, assumes significance for both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress.
"The counting will begin at 8 a.m. and the early trends would be known at around 10 a.m. The complete results will be out by 12 noon," a poll official told IANS.
"Due to the lockdown in place in the state, there are stringent restrictions on people's movement. Therefore, proper security arrangements are in place in Belgaum, Basavakalyan and Maski to handle the situation," the official added.
Even though upsetting results won't have any impact on the ruling party's status in the Assembly or in the Lok Sabha, they will certainly bolster the image of Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who has come under severe attack from his own partymen over the alleged mishandling of the Covid situation in the state.
At the same time, the bypoll results will certainly test the popularity of two chief claimants of the Congress for the CM's post in the 2023 Assembly elections -- leader of opposition Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief D.K. Shivakumar.
The race for the CM's post in 2023 has already begun in the Congress in Karnataka, with the supporters of Kuruba (shepherd community) strongman Siddaramaiah projecting him as the future CM, resulting in groupism in the party.
The party's victory in the bypolls will certainly bolster the supporters of both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.
In the bypolls held on April 17, the voter turnout in Belgaum came down by around 11 per cent from the 67.21 per cent polling recorded during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Basavakalyan segment in Bidar district also saw a drop in polling percentage from 64.85 per cent in 2018 to 61.58 per cent this time.
The turnout was the highest in Maski, an ST reserved constituency, at 70.46 per cent. The Assembly constituency located in Raichur district had recorded a turnout of 68.98 per cent during the 2018 elections.
The by-election in Belgaum was held to fill the vacancy caused by the death of BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Railways, Suresh Angadi.
In Basavakalya, the bypoll was necessitated by the death of Congress legislator B. Narayan Rao, while the disqualification of Pratapgouda Patil led to the by-election in Maski.
Angadi, a four-time Lok Sabha member from the state, fell prey to Covid-19 in September last year, while Rao also died of Covid in the same month in Bengaluru.
In all, 30 candidates -- 10 in Belgaum, 12 in Basavakalyan and 8 in Maski -- are in the fray. Of them, 26 are men and four are women, including five Independents each in Belgaum and Maski and four in Basavakalyan.
In Belgaum, the BJP fielded Mangala, the widow of Angadi, to inherit his political legacy by retaining the seat, while the Congress fielded Mallamma, the widow of Rao, to inherit his political lineage by retaining the Basavakalyan Assembly seat.
The Congress has fielded its state unit working president and sugar baron Satish Jarkiholi against Mangala in Belgaum.
Satish, 58, is a Congress legislator from the Yemakanmardi Assembly seat in Belgaum district.
Satish is also the younger brother of BJP's tainted former state minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was embroiled in the sleaze CD case that had rocked the state recently.
Pratapgouda Patil, who had defected to the BJP from the Congress in November 2019, is re-contesting to retain Maski on a lotus symbol this time.
The Congress has fielded Basavanagoud Turvihal in Maski. Turvihal had lost to Patil from there in the 2018 Assembly elections as a BJP candidate. He jumped ship to the Congress recently.
Though the opposition Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) is not contesting in Belgaum and Maski, it has fielded Syed Yasrab Ali Quadri in Basavakalyan, where the BJP has fielded Saharanu Salaga to wrest the seat from the Congress.