The two constituencies, Bangalore Rural and Mandya, about 80 km from Bangalore, will see direct fight between the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) as the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its candidates in support of the latter.
The constituencies are considered JD-S stronghold and the bypolls follow resignation of the party's Lok Sahba members, H.D. Kumaraswamy from Bangalore Rural and N. Cheluvarayaswamy from Mandya after they got elected to the Karnataka assembly in the May 5 elections.
The two bypolls are the first the Congress faces after returning to power in the state in the May 5 assembly elections on its own after nine years.
Snatching the two seats from JD-S in its strongholds would be a further morale booster for the Congress ahead of the general elections due in April-May next.
Kumarswamy, son of JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda 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.
The Shivakumar and Gowda families, both belonging to politically influential Vokkaliga community, are bitter political rivals for the control of the Bangalore Rural seat.
In Mandya, which is also the home district of former chief minister and former external affairs minister S.M. Krishna, the battle is between popular Kananda film actress Ramya of Congress and C.S. Puttaraju of JD-S.
Both the candidates belong to the Vokkaliga community as it dominates the southern part of Karnataka of which Bangalore Rural and Mandya are part.
The community constitutes about 15 percent of the state over 60 million population and is concentrated in the southern parts.
Vote counting is on Aug 24.
Bitter attack on each other, often of personal nature, by the Congress and JD-S leaders marked the campaign.
BJP's decision to withdraw its nominees from the contest gave a big handle to the Congress to taunt Gowda on his claim to be a staunch secularist.
Gowda has been at pains to tell the voters in the two constituencies that he had not entered into any tie-up or understanding with the "communal" BJP but that party is "supporting JD-S on its own".
However, Gowda's explanation took a beating Sunday as senior BJP leader and former minister R. Ashoka campaigned along with Anita Kumaraswamy in Bangalore Rural constituency.
--IANS (Posted on 19-08-2013)