Voting Wednesday in Karnataka parliamentary bypolls

Bangalore, Aug 20 (IANS) Over 3.5 million people, nearly half of them women, are eligible to vote Wednesday in the bypolls to two Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka -- winning which has become a prestige issue for both the ruling Congress and JD-S. Results will be out Aug 24.

Though the winners will have less than a year's term as Lok Sabha elections are due April-May next, attaining victory has become important for different reasons for the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

The bypolls to Bangalore Rural and Mandya, about 80 km from Bangalore, are the first the Congress is facing after returning to power in the state in the May 5 assembly elections.

Both the seats were held by JD-S and defeating the party in its stronghold ahead of general elections would further boost morale of the Congress.

For JD-S, more particularly for the family of its president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, retaining the seats is vital to maintain the hold on the party.

Gowda's son H.D. Kumaraswamy, who is party's state president and former chief minister, held the Bangalore Rural seat while party colleague N. Cheluvarayaswamy represented Mandya.

Both quit the Lok Sabha after getting elected to the state assembly in May necessitating the bypolls.

The two constituencies will see direct fight between the Congress and the JD-S as the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its candidates in support of the latter.

Kumaraswamy has fielded his wife Anita Kumaraswamy from Bangalore Rural.

Anita is pitted against Congress' D.K. Suresh, the younger brother of Congress legislator D.K. Shivakumar.

There are 11 independents in the fray.

In Mandya the battle is between popular Kananda film actress Ramya of Congress and C.S. Puttaraju of JD-S.

Bangalore Rural has over 1.9 million voters, around 900,000 of them women. Mandya has more than 1.6 million voters with about 800,000 being women.

Polling will take place between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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