It's time to press the button

It's time to press the button

Channapatna, Bangarpet, Jagalur go to bypolls today

It's time to press the button

Dutybound: Officers on election duty leave for their respective booths in Channapatna Assembly constituency on Friday. KPN

The State government has declared holiday on Saturday for all schools, colleges and banks in the constituencies which are going for the polls, to facilitate people to exercise their franchise.

An estimated 4.94 lakh voters will decide the poll prospects of 33 candidates, including that of three major political parties -- the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S). As many as 694 polling stations have been set up for the purpose in the three constituencies. Counting of votes will be held on May 13.

The by-elections have been forced upon these constituencies, thanks to the quest by the ruling party to make its position safer. Saturday is the day for the electorate to express their mind on Operation Lotus, which has been termed as onslaught on democracy by the Opposition parties.

The bypolls were necessitated following defection of the Congress and the JD(S) MLAs to the ruling BJP, whose numerical strength in the Assembly had shrunk after eleven of its rebel MLAs and five independent MLAs supporting the government withdrew support in October last year.

M C Ashwatha of the JD(S) quit his party and Assembly membership from Chennapatna constituency, while S V Ramachandra and M Narayanaswamy of the Congress resigned their Jagalur (ST) and Bangarpet (SC) seats respectively to defect to the saffron party.

While the Congress and the JD(S) have been pulling out all stops to defeat the BJP candidates appealing to the electorate not to encourage defectors and teach the BJP a lesson, the ruling party has been seeking votes on the twin planks of the government’s stability and development.

The byelections are a must win for Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who has been facing rebellion in his own party. The future course of his detractors, who demanded the leadership change, would to some extent depend on the outcome of the byelections. Hence, Yeddyurappa extensively campaigned in all three places.

This is the second byelection for Channapatna constituency in the last two years. C P Yogeshwar, elected on a Congress ticket defected to the BJP in 2009 and lost to the JD(S) candidate Ashwatha in the bypoll. However, Ashwatha also crossed over to the BJP leading to another bypoll.

Of the three constituencies, it is in Jagalur that the ruling party is facing problem as a BJP man is contesting as an Independent (rebel) candidate to give sleepless nights to the party nominee.

H P Rajesh, as the BJP candidate had lost to the Congress candidate S V Ramachandra in the 2008 polls by about 3000 votes. Now, Ramachandra is the BJP candidate. Rajesh, a youngster, is enjoying the support of youths. It is alleged that he has the support of the Reddys of Bellary.

In Bangarpet, the fight is between the BJP and the Congress, while in Channapatna, it is the BJP vs the JD(S).