Karnataka votes to elect 14th Assembly
Fate of many stalwarts to be sealed
After weeks of hectic campaigning, the State went to the polls on Sunday.
With the mercury soaring, especially in the north Karnataka districts, the Election Commission on Saturday has extended the duration of polling by one hour to provide some relief to voters from the scorching summer. People can now exercise their franchise between 7 am and 6 pm. The move will benefit senior citizens who can now visit polling stations in the evening.
In some polling stations, tents have been erected and provisions for drinking water made for the convenience of the voters.
In the 2008 Assembly elections, the State recorded a polling percentage of 64.87 while the turnout in Bangalore was 47.3 per cent. In view of the poor response last time, the Election Commission undertook a slew of measures to encourage more people, especially youth, to participate in the electoral process. It conducted Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation campaigns, including street plays and awareness programmes in colleges.
Besides, videos featuring former president Abdul Kalam, tennis player Saina Nehwal, actors Puneet Rajkumar, Aindrita Rai and Ramesh Aravind were exhibited across the State and telecast on various channels. Posters of these celebrities highlighting the significance of voting in a democratic process were put up in public places. The videos were also uploaded on the Election Commission’s website.
This apart, Nandini milk packets with a message urging the people to vote have been distributed for the past few days.
The commission’s consistent efforts for over a month also resulted in 35 lakh people in the age group of 18 to 22 enrolling in the voters’ list. A total of 4.35 crore people are eligible to vote, including 2.22 crore men and 2.13 crore women. About 2,931 transgenders have also been enrolled. They have been given voting rights for the first time.
In another first, the commission distributed voters’ slips well in advance. There were complaints that the slips did not reach the entire State, following which arrangements were made to distribute voters’ slips at the polling booths on Sunday. However, a person whose name is missing from the rolls cannot vote despite having identity slips or cards.
The commission will also monitor about 1,100 hypersensitive booths via webcasting.
About 129 expenditure observers have been appointed to ensure free and fair elections. In addition, for the first time, 30 police observers have been pressed to keep a hawk-eye on poll rule violations. A large amount of cash, liquor and gift items meant for distribution among the voters were seized across the State.
Polling will be held in 223 of the 224 Assembly constituencies. There are 2,940 candidates in the fray, including 170 women. Polling in Periyapatna constituency in Mysore district has been postponed to May 29 following the death of BJP candidate Sannamage Gowda. In the Bangalore urban district, which has the highest number of 28 Assembly constituencies, 740 candidates are in the fray.
The term of the current Assembly will expire on June 3. In the 2008 Assembly elections, the BJP bagged 110 seats, the Congress 80 and the JD(S) 28, while there were six independents.
The Congress is contesting all 223 seats, the BJP 222, the JD(S) 221, the KJP 203 and the BSR Congress 175. Many national parties and registered unrecognised parties like the SP, BSP, NCP, JD(U) and CPI have also fielded candidates. This apart, as many as 1,222 independent candidates are contesting.
Prominent among the candidates are Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar (Hubli-Dharwad central), former chief ministers B S Yeddyurappa (Shikaripura) and H D Kumaraswamy (Ramanagar), two deputy chief ministers K S Eshwarappa (Shimoga city) and R Ashoka (Padmanabanagar), KPCC chief G Parameshwara (Koratagere) and CLP leader Siddaramaiah (Varuna). The BJP and the JD(S) have already declared Shettar and Kumaraswamy as their chief ministerial candidates respectively, while the Congress said the party high command will take a call in this regard.
* Duration of polling extended by one hour (7 am to 6 pm)
* Indelible ink will be marked on ring finger of left hand.
* Arrangements made to distribute voter slips near polling booths also.
* Parties barred from conducting pooja to EVMs & in polling booths.
* About 35 lakh new voters to exercise their franchise.
* Total 2,940 candidates in fray for 223 constituencies
* Certain hyper sensitive booths to be monitored through webcast by EC
* Prohibition on publication of exit polls has been extended till 6.30 pm.