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Voting begins in Karnataka by-polls; tough test for Congress, BJP

Bangalore (Agencies): The polls, likely to test the political tenacity of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BJP national vice-president B S Yeddyurappa, are the first electoral showdown after the Lok Sabha elections.

Siddaramaiah is under intense pressure to show results as the Congress had failed to replicate the 2013 Assembly poll success in the Lok Sabha elections which saw a resurgent BJP walk away to glory drawn by the Modi wave.

Struggling to revive itself after losing its first-ever government in the South in Karnataka, BJP saw a turnaround in its fortunes in Lok Sabha polls winning 17 of the 28 seats, leaving nine to Congress which had high hopes of doing well. JD-S of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had won two seats.

For Yeddyurappa too, it is a high-stake battle as his son B Y Raghavendra is contesting from his fiefdom Shikaripura which he had represented before vacating it following his election to Lok Sabha from Shimoga. Yeddyurappa had won seven times from Shikaripura since 1983 and lost once.

Recently-appointed BJP national vice-president Yeddyurappa would be proving a political point about his command in the state if the party fares well in the by-polls. Congress is not only trying to retain the Chikkodi-Sadalga seat but is also eyeing to wrest Shikaripura and Bellary Rural from the BJP which also has spared no efforts to retain its hold.

Siddaramaiah went all out campaigning vigorously for party’s success. An adverse outcome is bound to erode his position within the party where there are murmurs of discontent over his government’s functioning.

Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimappa had yesterday said the state administration was not living upto popular expectations and there was no difference between the present and previous BJP governments.

JD-S, which is struggling to stop the snowballing discontent over the functioning of leadership of its supremo Gowda and his son and former Chief Minster H D Kumaraswamy, has not fielded any candidates. Twenty two candidates are in the fray. Counting of votes will take place on August 25.

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