Campaigning ends for eight Karnataka assembly by-polls

December 25th, 2008 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Dec 25 (IANS) Campaigning ended Thursday for the Dec 27 by-elections in eight assembly constituencies in Karnataka, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prestige is at stake.Seven of the eight by-elections were caused after three Congress and four Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislators resigned from the assembly to join the ruling BJP. The eighth follows the death of the JD-S legislator.

The campaigning has been marred by attempts to distribute money, liquor and other inducements to voters. State election officials have in the last few days seized several million rupees in cash, bundles of sarees and a few hundred cases of liquor bottles which, they said, were meant to buy votes or influence the voters.

All the eight constituencies will witness triangular contests among the BJP, the Congress and the JD-S.

The focus in on Madhugiri, about 90 km from Bangalore, where former prime minister and JD-S president H.D. Deve Gowda has fielded his daughter-in-law Anita Kumaraswamy against JD-S ‘defector’ C. Chennigappa, who is contesting as a BJP candidate.

The by-polls are a prestige issue for the BJP as it has included four ‘defectors’ in its ministry and all of them are contesting as BJP candidates.

The four are Balachandra Jarkhiholi, K. Shivana Gouda Naik and Umesh Katti (all formerly of JD-S), and Anand Asnotikar (formerly Congress). Jarkhiholi is contesting from Arabhavi, Gouda Naik from Devadurga, Katti from Hukkeri and Asnotikar from Karwar.

The other three constituencies where by-polls are being held are Doddaballapur, Turuvekere, and Maddur. In Maddur, the bypoll follows the death of the JD-S legislator.

Counting of votes is slated for Dec 30.

The 44-year-old Anita, wife of former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, is a businesswoman who runs Kasturi, a Kannada TV channel.

Anita is the fourth member of the Gowda family to enter politics. Besides her husband and father-in-law, her brother-in-law H.D. Revanna is also in politics. Revanna was a minister in his younger brother Kumaraswamy’s cabinet in 2006-2007.

The BJP had won 110 seats in the May assembly polls, three short of a majority. But it formed its first government in south India with the support of six Independents. Five of them were made ministers.

The party then decided to lure legislators from the JD-S and the Congress to reduce dependence on the Independents for the government’s survival.

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