With Karnataka’s ruling BJP, as well as opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) announcing their candidates for the November 3 Assembly bypolls, the stage is set for a triangular contest in both Rajarajeshwarinagar (RR Nagar) and Sira constituencies. The BJP has nominated Munirathna and Rajesh Gowda for the RR Nagar seat in Bengaluru and Sira seat in Tumkuru district, respectively, while Kusuma H and T.B. Jayachandra are Congress candidates and V. Krishna Murthy and Ammajamma are the JD-S nominees. The by-elections were necessitated by the resignation of sitting legislator Munirathna, a Congress defector to the BJP in 2019, from RR Nagar and the death of Sira’s JD-S JD-S legislator B.Satyanarayana on August 5 after prolonged illness at a private hospital in Bengaluru. All the candidates are Vokkaligas, a politically dominant community in the state, especially in the old Mysuru region. Kusuma, 31, widow of former IAS officer D.K. Ravi, joined the Congress on October 4, with a view to contesting in the byelections, as her father Hanumantharayappa is a former Congress council member from RR Nagar zone. Ravi, 35, a 2009 batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer, committed suicide in the city on March 16, 2015 for “personal reasons”. According to the poll panel, an electorate of 6.76 lakh, including about 7,000 first-timers, are eligible to vote in the twin byelections. R Nagar has 4.6 lakh voters – 2.4 lakh men and 2.2 lakh women, while Sira has 2.15 lakh voters – 1.10 lakh men and 1.05 women voters. “In view of the Covid pandemic in the state, campaigning for the bypolls will be regulated and restricted to ensure social distancing and safety of all the stakeholders,told by” Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar. As per the guidelines issued by the poll panel, political parties and Independents in the fray should ensure Covid measures at their rallies and meetings for electioneering. “Groups of only 5 persons, including the candidate will be allowed for door-to-door campaigning and their convoy should be broken after 5 vehicles for roadshows,” the CEO said. “Bedsides those infected or undergoing quarantine, persons with disabilities and above 80 years will be allowed to vote through postal ballot,” said Kumar.
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