About 65 per cent polling in Karnataka

About 65 per cent polling in Karnataka

An estimated 65 per cent of the 4.62 crore voters in Karnataka exercised their franchise today for 28 Lok Sabha seats in the single-phase polls in which the ruling Congress and BJP are playing for high stakes.

The elections held under the watchful eyes of some 85,000 security personnel, including the central forces, passed off peacefully with no major untoward incident, officials said.
Voting ranged from moderate to brisk in the initial hours touching about 25 per cent till around noon but gathered pace reaching 47 per cent at 3 pm and 60 per cent by 5 pm, Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told PTI.

Polling in the three constituencies of Bangalore - South, Central and North - was more than 50 per cent till 5 pm, he said, adding that the final polling percentage would go up further.

A total of 435 candidates are in the fray with BJP expecting upswing in its fortunes after the bitter defeat in the 2013 Assembly polls when it lost power to Congress, which on the other side, is hoping to replicate its performance.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the final voting percentage was 58.81. The then ruling party BJP had won 19 seats, Congress six and JDS three.

In a tragic note to the election process, two polling officials died of heart attack in Belgaum and Tumkur districts, police said.

Among the key contestants are Nandan Nilekani, former Infosys co-founder and the richest candidate in the fray with his and wife's declared wealth of over Rs 7,700 crore, who is locked in a close fight with five-time MP BJP's Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South.

Former Prime Minister and JDS chief Deve Gowda (Hassan) and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur) are other prominent contestants.

Besides Gowda and Moily, four other former Chief Ministers BJP's B S Yeddyurappa (Shimoga) and D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), JDS' H D Kumaraswamy (Chikkaballapur) and Congress' N Dharam Singh (Bidar) are also in the field.

The electoral exercise was spread across 54,294 polling booths, of which 11,424 were declared hypersensitive and 14,968 sensitive.

The Election Commission introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system on an experimental basis in Bangalore South, one of the seven constituencies in the country to be chosen for it.

VVPAT is a printer with drop box. It prints and displays a slip in seven seconds after the vote is cast so that a citizen can also confirm who they cast their vote for. The slip will then get automatically dropped into the drop box next to the Electronic Voting Machine and can't be retrieved.

Congress as well BJP have set their sights on winning about 20 seats.

BJP is expecting that the return of Yeddyurappa would bring significant gains and shift his vote base to it, as he had secured 10 per cent vote share in the 2013 Assembly polls, playing spoilsport to the party's hopes of retaining power.

The party is also heavily banking on the Modi factor to tilt the scales in its favour, particularly among young voters. Investing much in Karnataka, Modi has held 15 rallies.
On the other front, Congress' offensive was spearheaded by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who addressed more than 75 rallies. A less than impressive show would weaken his position within his party, a reason why he has played for high stakes.

JDS has contested 24 seats but in 22 constituencies it is a direct face-off beween Congress and BJP and in the rest, it is a tripolar contest.

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