State to vote on April 17

State to vote on April 17

Like it did for the last Assembly elections, the Election Commission (EC) has opted for single phase voting in Karnataka for the Lok Sabha polls. All 28 constituencies will face the elections on April 17.

Sources in the EC said the single phase polling would help curb the use of black money, liquor and the menace of paid news. During the Assembly elections held last May, poll malpractices were curbed to some extent, sources said. 

Officials in Karnataka had reportedly suggested that the EC hold elections in the single phase to avoid potential luring of voters with money. In 2009, the Lok Sabha elections were held in two phases in the State.

The EC’s drive led to the seizure of Rs 24.71 crore in cash, liquor worth Rs 6.38 crore and material worth Rs 6.75 crore, apparently for distribution to voters during the run up to the Assembly polls, it is said. 

As soon as the poll dates were announced in Delhi, tension mounted in the State as senior leaders of the three major political parties scrambled to finalise candidates. 

The BJP on Wednesday got back its footing to a certain extent in Bellary, as MLA B Sriramulu, who heads the BSR Congress, announced at a public rally in his home district that his party would merge with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He also claimed that BJP central leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, had agreed to the merger. In all probability, Sriramulu, a close aide of the jailed mining baron Janaradhana Reddy, would be the BJP nominee for Bellary. 

While politicians work round-the-clock till the polling date, for the next 72 days Vidhana Soudha, the State secretariat, will not witness many activities. Ministers cancelled their scheduled press conferences as soon as the model code of conduct came into force. 

Although none of the parties have been able to finalise candidates for all the constituencies, there was no dearth of bold statements and claims from prominent politicians about their poll prospects. 

Welcoming the decision to conduct polls in single phase, BJP leader Jagadish Shettar said that the party cadre was enthusiastic as there is a “pro-Modi” sentiment across the state. The five conventions the BJP prime ministerial candidate had conducted in the state were a huge success. The party will win at least 20 seats in the state, he added. 

Reacting to the EC schedule, JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy said it was good to opt for single phase polling. However, he alleged that the State Government was misusing its machinery to project the Congress party. He said two-page advertisements in every newspaper, costing crores of rupees, were evidence of this misuse.

Appreciating the move, Congress state chief G Parameshwara said that the EC decision was taken due to the State’s peaceful atmosphere. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are expected to visit the State twice to thrice to campaign, he added. 

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