Bangalore, May 5, 2013 (PTI): An estimated 70.23 percent of the 4.35 crore-strong electorate voted in the Assembly elections in Karnataka on Sunday amid projections that beleaguered ruling BJP was on a sticky wicket against a resurgent Congress.Meanwhile, the Bangalore city saw a hightest turn out of 52.83 in the state’s polling history.
The 7 AM-to-6 PM vote kicked off on a brisk pace initially but appeared to lose steam as the mercury soared before picking up momentum again in the last hours in 223 segments, where a total of 2,940 candidates were in the fray.Election in Periyapatna in Mysore district had been put off to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate. “Polling was peaceful. We have no reports of poll disruptions,” Joint Chief Electoral Officer T Shamaiah told PTI, adding that polling was 60.68 per cent till 5 PM.
Election Commission officials said the figure was estimated to be around 65 per cent by the close, but the exact poll percentage is expected later following compilation from all the segments. The counting will be done on May 8.
Prominent candidates included Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee G Parameshwara, former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and JDS state unit President H D Kumaraswamy.
Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements with some 1.35 lakh police personnel on duty in some 52,000 polling booths where about 65,000 electronic voting machines had been installed.
Barring sporadic incidents, including one at Bellary, the voting was largely peaceful.
Breakaway parties — Karnataka Janatha Paksha of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and BSR Congress formed by former Minister B Sriramulu — are projected to dent the prospects of the BJP, already battered by intra-party fights and allegations of corruption.
Pre-poll surveys have predicted that the Congress is all set to emerge as the single largest party or be at a striking distance of coming to power in the elections.
The strength of BJP, which won 110 seats in the 2008 elections, is forecast to come down by more than half, and that of JDS to improve by a dozen seats compared to 28 the last time around.
Police have arrested four persons who were openly wielding swords in the district headquarters town of Kolar, adding that a major clash was averted between supporters of an independent and a political party.
At Sidlagatta in Chikkaballapura district, one person sustained serious injuries after being attacked by supporters of another party. In a Bellary booth, a voter was allegedly hit by a policeman over a trivial issue and sustained injuries in the ear.
Meanwhile, Leelavathi Mekki, a 28-year-old teacher, who reported for poll duty yesterday at Negalur in Haveri district complained of chest pain and died today in neighbouring Davangere, where she was shifted.
In the 2008 elections to the total of 224 seats, the BJP, with 33.86 per cent of the votes polled, secured 110 seats, followed by the Congress (34.59) 80 seats and JDS (19.13) 28 seats.
While the overall voter turnout was 64.91 per cent in the 2008 elections, the average in the 28 segments of Bangalore was a low 47.3 per cent. The lowest in Bangalore was in Sarvajnanagar at 35.40 per cent.
60 percent turnout till 5 p.m.
Over 60 percent of the 43.6 million voters cast their ballots till 5 p.m. in the 14th Karnataka assembly polls Sunday to decide the fate of the first BJP government in south India, an official said here.
In Bangalore, which has earned notoriety for low polling, the balloting pace remained slow with only around 45 percent of the city’s seven million voters exercising their franchise, an election official told reporters.
40 percent polling till 2 p.m. in Karnataka
About 40 percent of the 43.6 million voters cast their ballots till 2 p.m. in the 14th Karnataka assembly polls Sunday to decide the fate of the first BJP government in south India, an official said here.
In Bangalore, which has earned notoriety for low polling, the balloting pace had yet not picked up as only 30 percent of the city’s seven million voters exercised their franchise, an election official told reporters.
“Polling is progressing in a peaceful manner in the state and around 40 percent voting has taken place by 2 p.m.,” the spokesperson said.
Booths opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m.
Election officials said in a few villages in north Karnataka people had stayed away from voting protesting against lack of basic facilities like drinking water.
The polling began on a brisk note, despite hot weather conditions across the state. The votes will be counted May 8.
With the Election Commission (EC) advancing commencement of polling by an hour to 7 a.m., hundreds of voters made a beeline to booths in many of the 223 assembly constituencies to cast their vote through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
But in the first four hours of voting, polling was just about 15 percent.
The EC has also extended the duration of polling by an hour to 6 p.m., in view of the scorching summer heat across the state, including Bangalore.
Polling is being held for 223 of the state assembly’s 224 elected seats. Election from the Periyapatna constituency of Mysore district has been countermanded, following the death of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Sannamoge Gowda April 29. Polling there has now been rescheduled for May 28.
One seat in the state assembly is reserved for a nominated member from the Ango-Indian community.
“The voting process began on a peaceful note in all the 223 constituencies across the state under tight security. It started slowly and is picking up well,” a poll official told IANS nearly an hour after the exercise got underway.
In all, 52,034 polling booths have been set up across the 223 assembly segments, with 10,103 of them declared hyper-sensitive and 14,209 as sensitive.
Of the state’s 61.13 million population, 43.6 million are registered voters, comprising 22.22 million men and 21.35 million women. First-time voters in the age group of 18-22 years are 3.55 million.
As the state capital, Bangalore has the largest number of voters — 7.03 million of a total population of 10 million — and the highest number of assembly segments at 28.
Among the eligible voters in this tech hub, 534,548 are new, as they enrolled for this election in January.
“We have formed about 2,000 flying squads comprising five members each, including a photographer and a video-grapher to record the proceedings and ensure free and fair voting,” the poll official said.
About 253,000 officials from state and central governments and state-run organisations are on poll duty, with 48,182 police personnel outside booths and about 100,000 additional forces deployed around booths to maintain law and order.
The total number of candidates in the fray are 2,948, including 170 women candidates.
Major political parties such as the ruling BJP, the Congress, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the newly-formed Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), a party of the BJP rebels led by its first chief minister in the southern state B.S. Yeddyurappa are contesting in all the 223 constituencies across the state.