Bengaluru: Jamkhandi, one of the five constituencies that went to by-polls, witnessed 81.58 % polling on Saturday compared to 75.71% in the assembly elections in May, indicating how fiercely the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested the seat to increase their respective tallies in the lower house of the legislature.
The campaigning for the by-polls saw all three parties get personal in their attacks, which several within the party attributed to the significance of the elections.
Ramanagaram, a seat left vacant after Karnataka Chief minister H.D.Kumaraswamy decided to retain the neighbouring constituency, recorded 73.71% polling compared to 82.98% in May.
Five by-polls for two assembly and three parliamentary seats—Ballari, Shivamogga and Mandya--was held on Saturday. Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya recorded 61.05%, 63.85% and 53.93% polling respectively. The BJP is confident of winning both Shivamogga and Ballari and get a foothold in Mandya, a region dominated by JD (S).
The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) have allied together to fight the BJP in the by-polls that would be a testing ground for the alliance before 2019. All three parties believe that the by-polls would be an indication on which way the 2019 elections would go while the Congress-JD (S) think that the by-polls results would have an impact on the upcoming state elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Coming just five months after the May assembly elections, the BJP is hoping to repeat it’s earlier performance, emerging as the single largest party with 104 out of 224 seats or just eight shy of forming the government on its own.
The BJP is trying to increase its tally with a win in Jamkhandi, which it lost by 2795 votes in May. But the BJP suffered a huge setback when their candidate from Ramanagaram withdrew his nomination 48 hours before the polls. Though it was unlikely that the BJP would win this seat that is considered a JD(S) bastion, it was a good opportunity for the saffron party to get a foothold in the Vokkaliga dominated region where it has little to no representation.
The by-polls is also crucial for the top brass of the Congress and BJP who have been not just warding off attacks from its political rivals but also that of its own partymen demanding a change in leadership. The mineral rich district of Ballari saw Congress leader D.K.Shivkumar go head to head against B.Sriramalu of the BJP in a fight that would cement their own reputations as ‘strongmen’ capable of delivering victories.
The run up to the by-polls also showed the differences that exists between the grass root level workers of the Congress and JD (S), despite a formal alliance at their top, giving an advantage to the BJP to exploit this weakness ahead of 2019.
Shivamogga = 61.05
Ballari = 63.85
Mandya = 53.93
Ramanagara = 73.71
Jamkhandi = 81.58