The ruling BJP has taken an early lead in 10 out of 15 Assembly constituencies that went for bypolls on December five, as the counting of votes was taken up on Monday, election officials said. Initial trends showed the Congress and JD(S) were ahead in two seats, while independent candidate was maintaining lead in Hoskote.
BJP candidates who are leading are- Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), B C Patil (Hirekerur), Shrimant Patil (Kagwad), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), Mahesh Kumthalli (Athani), Arun Kumar Guttur (Ranebennur), Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout) and Byrathi Basavaraj (K R Puram).
Congress nominees H P Manjunath (Hunsur) and Rizwan Arshad (Shivajinagar) were leading; JD(S)' B L Devaraj and Javarayi Gowda were ahead in K R Pete and Yeshwanthpura respectively. BJP's rebel and independent candidate Sharath Bachegowda, son of Chikkaballapura Lok Sabha member B N Bachegowda, was leading ahead of party's official candidate MTB Nagaraj in Hoskote.
The bypolls were held to fill vacancies caused by the disqualification of 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs, whose revolt led to collapse of the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July and paved the way for BJP to come to power. The BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to remain in majority in the 225-member assembly including the Speaker, who has a casting vote), which would still have two vacant seats -- Maski and R R Nagar.
In the assembly with the current strength of 208 after disqualifications, the BJP has 105 MLAs (including an independent), the Congress 66 and the JD(S) has 34 MLAs. There is also one BSP member, a nominated member and the Speaker.