Record polling in Karnataka bypolls

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Bengaluru, April 9 (IANS) A record 80 per cent turnout in bypolls to Karnataka’s Gundlupet and 76 per cent in Nanjangud (reserved) assembly constituencies on Sunday.

“About 80 per cent of voters exercised franchise in Gundlupet and 76 per cent in Nanjangud by 5 p.m. The percentatge is likely to go up, as many voters were in queues in some booths when poll timing ended officially at 5 p.m.,” state Chief Electoral Officer A.K. Jha told reporters here.

In the April 2013 assembly elections, polling percentatge in Gundlupet was also a record 87.05 and in Nanjungud, it was 77.59.

Barring stray incidents like voting being held up due to glitches in the EVMs in some booths and poll boycott in a village in the Nanjangud segment, the bye-polls were peaceful in both the segments amid tight security.

Though the polling process began at 7 a.m., voting only gathered momentum during the day and turned brisk after 3 p.m. despite the weather being hot and humid.

A 94-year-old woman died at her home on return from a pooling booth after casting her vote at Hangala village in the Nanjangud segment, said police.

In another incident, about 700 voters boycotted polling in protest against lack of basic amenities in their village (Mahadevanagara) in Nanjangud.

“The electorate were not willing to exercise their franchise in protest. Some of them, however, went to a polling booth later and voted,” said Jha.

The bye-poll for Nanjangud (Scheduled Caste) in Myusuru district has been necessitated by the resignation of former Congress lawmaker and Revenue Minister Srinviasa Prasad, who is re-contesting on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket.

The ruling Congress has fielded K. Keshavamurthy, who lost to Prasad in the 2013 assembly elections as a Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) nominee. Ten more candidates, including Independents are also in the fray.

Keshavamurthy was seen casting vote sporting the party symbol on a shawl he was wearing, which is a violation of the model code of conduct, as he was within 100 metres radius of the polling booth.

The bye-poll for Gundlupet in the adjacent Chamarajanagar district has been caused due to the death of Congress lawmaker and Cooperation Minister H.S. Mahadeva Prasad on January 2.

The ruling party has fielded his widow Geetha against C.S. Niranjan Kumar of the opposition BJP. Seven more are also 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.

Nanjangud has 2,00,498 voters and 236 polling stations while Gundlupet has 2,00,821 electorate and 250 polling booths.

Vote count is on April 13.

–IANS

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