The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday won in three assembly constituencies and was leading in three segments of the eight by-elections held in Karnataka on Saturday.
According to state election commission officials, the opposition Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) was leading in two constituencies, while the Congress was trailing.
"The BJP has won from Arabhavi, Devadurga and Doddaballapur. The ruling party is also leading in Karwar, Hukkeri and Turuvekere. JD-S candidates are leading in Madhugiri and Maddur," an official said.
Seven of the eight by-elections were caused after three Congress and four JD-S legislators resigned from the assembly to join the BJP. The eighth by-poll follows the death of JD-S legislator MS Siddaraju in Maddur.
Counting of votes in the eight assembly seats began at 8 am in the respective district headquarters.
Around 74 per cent of the nearly 1.3-million voters cast their votes on Saturday.
The BJP, Congress and JD-S are locked in a triangular fight in all constituencies, though several independents are also contesting.
The campaign was marred by attempts to distribute money, liquor and other inducements to voters.
According to State Chief Electoral Officer MN Vidyashankar, Rs 3.2 million in cash and liquor worth Rs 12 million meant for distribution among voters had been seized from the constituencies ahead of the elections.
The focus is on Madhugiri, about 90 km from Bangalore, where former prime minister and JD-S president HD Deve Gowda's daughter-in-law Anita Kumaraswamy is contesting against JD-S 'defector' C Chennigappa, who is now a BJP candidate.
Anita, the 44-year-old wife of former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, is a businesswoman who runs Kasturi, a Kannada TV channel.
Anita is the fourth member of the Gowda family to enter politics. Besides her husband and father-in-law, her brother-in-law HD Revanna is also in politics. Revanna was a minister in his younger brother Kumaraswamy's cabinet in 2006-2007.
The by-polls are a prestige issue for the BJP as it has included four 'defectors' in its ministry and all of them are contesting as its candidates.
The four are Balachandra Jarkhiholi, K Shivana Gouda Naik, Umesh Katti (all formerly of JD-S) and Anand Asnotikar (formerly Congress). Jarkhiholi was contesting from Arabhavi, Gouda Naik from Devadurga, Katti from Hukkeri and Asnotikar from Karwar.
State election authorities had declared all the 1,613 polling booths in the eight constituencies as sensitive in view of the high political stakes.
The BJP had won 110 seats in the May assembly polls, three short of a majority. But it formed its first government in south India with the support of six independents. Five of them were made ministers.
The party then decided to lure legislators from the JD-S and the Congress to reduce dependence on the independents for the government's survival.