BELAGAVI/KALABURGI: The worsening Covid situation impacted the by-polls held to Belagavi Lok Sabha and Basavakalyan Assembly constituencies in Bidar district on Saturday as the average voting in both these segments dropped drastically as compared to the last elections. However, the Maski Assembly constituency (ST reserved, Raichur district) recorded 77.48 per cent.
Belagavi Deputy Commissioner Dr K Harish Kumar said that 54.02 per cent polling was recorded in the Belagavi Lok Sabha bypoll at the end of polling at 7 pm on Saturday. The average final polling at the Basavakalyan constituency is expected to be not more than 62 to 64 per cent. The DC said that of the eight Assembly segments which Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency covers, Gokak recorded the highest of 60.47 per cent voting, while the Belagavi North the lowest at 42.88 per cent.
The surge in Covid cases in Belagavi and Bidar districts is said to be the reason for people confining themselves to their homes. Belagavi registered 188 cases on Saturday as against 120 on Friday, while Bidar had 359 cases on Saturday and 326 on Friday. Raichur district recorded 91 cases on Saturday and 108 on Friday. The streets were deserted in many parts of the Belagavi constituency and by 5 pm, the overall average voting was merely 47.6 per cent. In Basavakalyan, it was 52.4 per cent and Maski 62.28 per cent at 5 pm.
A covid-positive Amarnath Jarkiholi, son of former Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, cast his vote at a local polling station in Gokak wearing a PPE kit. Despite measures to attract more voters, bypoll in Basavakalyan did not gain pace as expected. Given the high-voltage campaigning by both BJP and Congress, political analysts had expected a higher turnout of voters. It had registered 64.56 per cent in the 2018 Assembly polls.
At Maski, the voter turnout picked up as the day progressed. It recorded 68.97 per cent in 2018. At the end of voting in Belagavi, Congress candidate Satish Jarkiholi, who was relishing a masala dosa at a street corner in Gokak town, said he was going to win without any doubt given the poor turnout of voters. BJP candidate Mangala Angadi too was confident of winning the seat and said that the projects her husband late Suresh Angadi brought to Karnataka as a Union Minister of State for Railways will help her win the seat.The BJP and Congress are locked in a neck-and-neck clash in all the three constituencies. BJP predicts a fifth straight victory in Belagavi, besides winning Basavakalyan and Maski seats, while Congress too is confident of winning the three constituencies, riding on popular candidates it has fielded.
The Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency has been a stronghold of BJP with Suresh Angadi winning the seat since 2004. To counter its candidate Mangala, wife of Suresh Angadi, Congress fielded Satish Jarkiholi, finding it the right opportunity to snatch the seat from BJP. The clash for Basavakalyan between Mala Narayanrao of Congress and Sharanu Salgar of BJP is expected to go down to the wire. The death of MLA Narayanrao, husband of Mala, necessitated the bypoll here.
Though former MLA Mallikarjun Khuba, who had contested from a BJP ticket the last Assembly election, is in the fray as a BJP rebel, is only expected to grab some share of BJP votes. At Maski, it is a direct clash between Pratapgouda Patil of BJP and Basangouda Turvihal of Congress. The bypoll was held Pratapgouda, a sitting MLA, defected to BJP. Turvihal, who had contested the last election as a BJP candidate, had lost to Pratapgouda by a mere 213 votes.