K’taka bypolls: Sira breaks turnout record with 84.54%, RR Nagara sees dip of 9%
Bengaluru: The bypolls to twin seats in Karnataka saw voter turnout of whopping 84.54 per cent in Sira constituency while sticking to Bengaluru’s trend of low voter turnout, the Rajarajeshwari Nagara (RR Nagara) Assembly seat registered 45.24 per polling on Tuesday.
Voting for the bypolls commenced at 7 am on Tuesday amid tight security and Covid pandemic fears and continued till 6 pm.
Interestingly, of the 148 Covid positive patients, only four opted to exercise their franchise in RR Nagara.
“All four were male voters and were in home isolation. They were ferried in ambulance and made to vote at the last hour of polling,” a statement released by the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer’s office stated.
The Sira constituency took the lead in using postal ballots, as it used 4,821 postal ballots against the 5,019 issued for the purpose. In RR Nagara, only 512 postal ballots were issued of which 412 were used.
In Sira, as many as 105 Covid patients exercised their franchise through the postal ballots while not a single Covid patient used this facility in RR Nagara.
People started queuing up early to exercise their franchise. Congress candidate from RR Nagara, H. Kusuma, was one of the earliest voters in Mallathhalli after visiting the family deity temple.
RR Nagara saw the most acrimonious campaign with BJP and Congress launching tirades against each other throughout the campaign. But polling saw a dip of 9 per cent when compared to its own previous turnout records in 2018 and 2013.
Sira, which is otherwise a sleepy town, goes hyper during every election, and therefore it has always seen high voter turnout, registering 84.31 per cent and 79.19 per cent turnout in 2018 and 2013, respectively.
For the first time, Sira witnessed high voltage triangular battle between three prominent political parties, after Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s son, B. Y. Vijayendra, took charge of the poll campaign. Prior to his entry, it was considered to be a straight fight between the JD(S) and the Congress.
Bengaluru is known for registering low voter turnout but this trend RR Nagara had bucked in 2018 by registering 54.34 per cent turnout. In 2013, the constituency had registered 56.79 per cent turnout. In both these elections, N. Muniratna had won from the constituency.
The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
Of the four women candidates, Congress has fielded political novice H. Kusuma, the widow of former IAS officer D.K. Ravi, while Janata Dal (S) has fielded Ammajamma, the widow of B. Sathyanarayana in Sira. The demise of Satyanarayana, who died on August 5 after prolonged illness, necessitated the by-elections in Sira.
Both Kusuma and Ammajamma are contesting elections for the first time and are political novices in their respective constituencies.
The voters exercised their franchise at 1,008 polling stations, of which 678 were in RR Nagara and 330 in Sira.
Of the two seats, Congress had won RR Nagara and Janata Dal (S) had won Sira in the 2018 Assembly polls.
In the 224-seat Assembly, the BJP has 116 MLAs minus the Speaker, Congress 67 and JD(S) 33, while the BSP has 1 MLA and two are Independent members.
In total, four seats are vacant, of which elections to RR Nagara and Sira took place on Tuesday.
Elections to Maski and Basavakalyan constituencies will be held later.
While the election in Maski is caught in a legal tangle, the Basavakalyan seat fell vacant due to the recent death of Congress MLA B. Narayan Rao who succumbed to Covid-19.