ZP polls in 12 districts today

Being the ruling party, the BJP has an edge over the opponents. Besides, the BJP had outsmarted its rivals in all the elections that were held after it came to power 31 months ago. To top it all, the BJP already has one zilla panchayat (ZP) and six taluk panchayat (TP) seats in its kitty, where its members won unopposed. With these gains on its side, the BJP, particularly Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, has every reason to claim that it will bag the maximum number of panchayat seats.

But elections always throw up surprises. Like the ruling party, even the Congress and the JD (S) leaders have toiled hard to establish their supremacy at the grassroots. However, neither the Congress nor the JD (S) has claimed that it will occupy the number one slot in the results chart. The BJP is confident of winning 22 of the total 30 zilla panchayats in the State. In the first phase, 12 districts—Bangalore Urban (barring the BBMP limits), Bangalore Rural, Ramanagar, Chitradurga, Kolar, Chikballapur, Shimoga, Tumkur, Bidar, Bellary, Raichur and Yadgir—will go to the polls.

Voters will elect 374 ZP members and 1,335 TP members across these districts in the polling to be conducted from 7 am to 5 pm. The second phase is on December 31 and the third phase, covering just one district, will be on January 1. The results of all three phases will be announced on January 4.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in the 12,981 polling booths for the first phase. The total head count going to vote is 1.01 crore. There is a ban on sale of liquor from Saturday morning till Sunday midnight in these districts.

EVMs to be used

For the first time, electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used in the panchayat elections. A voter has to use two separate EVMs—one for the ZP and the other for the TP. As many as 1,549 are contesting for the ZPs while 4,762 candidates are in the fray for the TP polls. Of these candidates, 50 per cent are women, thanks to reservation for women in local bodies.

Pre-poll surveys conducted by Deccan Herald in many constituencies indicate that all the three political parties have their strongholds.  Though corruption and land scams of the Yeddyurappa government have been a topic of discussion among voters, the BJP has been able to maintain its sway over its traditional votes banks, including among the Lingayats.

The JD (S) seems to have consolidated its strength in the Vokkaliga belt and the Congress has its advantages in the change in the KPCC leadership and the scams of the Yeddyurappa government.

Results hold the key

The results are important for all three parties. For the BJP, especially for Yeddyurappa, the poll outcome will either give stability or stunt growth. The poll result can help the Congress face the next Assembly elections with confidence or will make the party work harder to rebuild itself. And the JD (S) will know whether its strategies to topple the BJP government are right.

Factfile

*  First Phase on December 26: Bangalore Urban (barring the BBMP limits), Bangalore Rural, Ramanagar, Chitradurga, Kolar, Chikballapur, Shimoga, Tumkur, Bidar, Bellary, Raichur and Yadgir.

*  Total number of seats: 374 zilla panchayat and 1,335 taluk panchayat TP members seats.

*  1,549 candidates for the ZP and 4,762 for the TP polls.

*  Of the candidates, 50 per cent are women.

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