Karnataka bypoll: Congress-JD(S) leads in 4 of 5 seats

Karnataka bypoll: Congress-JD(S) leads in 4 of 5 seats

Early vote count trends indicate that the Congress-JD(S) coalition might succeed in causing a huge setback to pip the BJP, what with the alliance leading in the Bellary Lok Sabha and Jamkhandi assembly constituencies. 

The Bellary Lok Sabha seat was said to be the BJP's fief as it was vacated by the saffron party's B Sreeramulu after he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. His sister J Shantha, also a former MP, got the ticket.

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As counting of votes is underway, Congress' V S Ugrappa is leading with a margin of over 31,000 votes, which could lead to a huge upset for the BJP. 

At Jamkhandi, the BJP was confident of wresting the constituency from the Congress. BJP's Shrikant Kulkarni is trailing behind Congress' Anand Nyamagouda by about 5,000 votes. 

The vote count trend is as expected in the Vokkaliga belt comprising the Mandya Lok Sabha and Ramanagara assembly constituencies. JD(S) leader LR Shivarame Gowda leading over BJP's Siddaramaiah in Mandya. In Ramanagara, JD(S) candidate Anitha Kumaraswamy is holding on to a huge lead of 14,000 votes over BJP's L Chandrashekhar. 

For now, the only solace for the BJP is in the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat, which is considered its stronghold. BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa, who vacated this seat after his election to the Legislative Assembly, has fielded his son BY Raghavendra. The BJP is leading with over 4,000 votes over JD(S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa. 

The by-election to the three Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies are touted as a precursor to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It is also seen as a litmus test for the Congress-JD(S) alliance, which could set the stage for a Mahagathbandhan at the national-level to fight the BJP.