The ruling Congress and BJP are playing for high stakes in tomorrow’s by-elections in Nanjanagud and Gundlupet of Karanataka, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah investing much prestige into the contest.The campaign for the constituencies by leaders of BJP and Congress saw personal attacks, allegations of misuse of government machinery, luring of voters with money and gifts and seizure of large amount of cash and liquor.
While BJP feels that the results will be in its favour post the success in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Congress is banking on the sympathy factor and its schemes for poor and marginalised classes.
Elections are being held for Gundlupet and Nanjangud constituencies following the death of Cooperative Minister Mahadeva Prasad and resignation of V Srinivas Prasad as Congress MLA after he was dropped from the ministry, respectively.
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While Prasad is now the BJP candidate from Nanjangud, Congress has fielded Kalale Keshavamurthy, who had contested the 2013 Assembly polls on a JD(S) ticket.
In Gundlupet, Congress has fielded Mahadeva Prasad’s wife Geeta Mahadeva Prasad and BJP’s candidate is C S Niranjan Kumar.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s JD(S) has decided not to field its candidates for the by-polls and remain neutral.
The stakes are particularly high for Siddaramaiah as he aims to continue his grip over the party and the government ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, even as he faces dissidence from the party’s old guard.
With both the constituencies being Congress seats and in his home turf, winning the by-election has become a prestige issue for Siddaramaiah, who had devoted the last eight days for the campaign crisscrossing both the constituencies.
For state BJP chief Yeddyurappa too, the results are important to play a dominant role in ticket distribution for next year’s Assembly elections.
The Lingayat strongman, who had camped in the two constituencies for the last 26 days, is also facing dissonance within the party over his “unilateral” style of functioning.
A total of 12 candidates are in the fray in Nanjanagud constituency, which has 2,01,815 voters. In Gundlupete, nine candidates are in the fray, where there are a total of 2,00,860 voters.
The Election Commission has made elaborate security arrangements in both constituencies for the conduct of free and fair elections.
Along with police and home guard personnel, Karnataka State Reserve Police, District Armed Reserve and Central Armed Police Force units or platoons have also been deployed for the bypolls, officials said.