Bangalore, Aug 21: Around 50 percent of over 3.6 million voters cast their ballots Wednesday in the bypolls for two Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka, an official said.
“Preliminary reports reaching us soon after booths closed at 5 p.m. show that about 50 percent voting took place,” an election commission spokesperson told reporters here.
Voting took place for Bangalore Rural and Mandya Lok Sabha seats. Mandya is about 80 km from Bangalore.
Bangalore Rural has over two million voters, around 900,000 of them women. Mandya has more than 1.6 million voters, nearly half of them women.
Voting booths opened at 8 a.m. but in many places voting began late due to technical glitches in the electronic voting machines, the spokesperson said.
The election result would be out Aug 24.
The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), which held both the seats, and the ruling Congress are locked in a straight battle as the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew from the contest in support of the former.
There are 18 independents also in the fray, 11 in Bangalore Rural and seven in Mandya. The Bangalore Rural seat was held by JD-S state president and former chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy while Mandya was represented by N. Cheluvarayaswamy.
Both quit Lok Sabha on getting elected to Karnataka assembly in the May 5 elections, necessitating the bypolls.
Kumaraswamy, son of JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, has fielded his wife Anita Kumaraswamy in Bangalore Rural.
The Congress candidate is D.K. Suresh, brother of party legislator and former minister D.K. Sureshkumar.
In Mandya, the Congress nominee is popular Kannada actor Ramya and her JD-S opponent is former legislator C.S. Puttaraju.
Though the winners will have about nine months term in the Lok Sabha as general elections are due in April-May, the Congress and the JD-S turned the bypoll battle into a matter of prestige.
The Congress, which returned to power in the state on its own after nine years in the May assembly elections, wanted to maintain the winning tempo and defeat the JD-S in its stronghold.
The JD-S, particularly the Gowda family, campaigned vigorously to retain the seats as a loss would be demoralising for the party ahead of the general elections.
In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, the JD-S won just three out of the 28 seats.