Searing heat slowing down voter turnout in Karnataka
After an initial burst, voter turnout in the Karnataka Assembly polls lost momentum in the afternoon apparently due to the searing heat, with an estimated 25-30 per cent voters exercising their franchise till 1 PM.
Polling had begun on a strong note at 7 AM, with turnout being 15 to 20 per cent in the first three hours.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and 106-year-old seer of the Tumkur-based famed Siddaganga Mutt, Shivakumar Swamy, were among the early voters.
Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Ministers M Mallikarjuna Kharge and M Veerappa Moily, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwara, BJP State unit President Prahlad Joshi, and Karnataka Janatha Paksha supremo B S Yeddyurappa were among those who voted in the initial hours.
Barring a tiff between a voter and an on-duty policeman in a Bellary booth with the former sustaining minor injuries leading to protests by a section of electorate there, polling was largely peaceful, sources said.
At a couple of places, including in Mahadevapura segment in the city, polling was delayed by a few minutes following malfunctioning of electronic voting machines.
"I am very happy with the arrangements made by the Election Commission, the way in which they have enlightened the people about the need for voting and I am hoping for a better voting in the election, improved voter percentage", Naidu, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, told reporters.
Authorities have made elaborate security arrangements for peaceful and smooth conduct of polls.
Polling is being held in 223 segments, with the one in Periyapatna in Mysore district having been postponed to May 28 following the death of BJP candidate.
Over 2.5 lakh people are on poll duty. Police personnel deployed on the ground are more than 1.35 lakh, with authorities keep a special vigil in hypersensitive booths with the help of cameras. There are a total of 2940 candidates in the fray.
Election Commission and several NGOs had conducted vigorous campaigns in recent weeks to encourage people to vote. In the 2008 elections, voter turn-out in the State was 64.91 per cent. The highest voting percentage in Karnataka history was in 1978, when it recorded 71.9.
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said recently the endeavour is to take it to 75 per cent.