2.43 crore to vote in 14 N Karnataka seats

2.43 crore to vote in 14 N Karnataka seats

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge

Buoyed by an impressive voter turnout in the first phase, election authorities are hoping for a high polling percentage on Tuesday when 2.43 crore people across 14 Lok Sabha segments in northern Karnataka will get to exercise their franchise.

There are 237 candidates in the fray in what is a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress. Voting will happen from 7 am to 6 pm in 28,022 polling stations.

“We hope for a good voter turnout in the second phase because our Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme was conducted in all the districts and over two crore voters in North Karnataka have been exposed to the electronic voting machine (EVM) and its ways,” Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar told DH.

In the first phase of polling for 14 Lok Sabha seats in the southern and coastal part of the Karnataka on April 18, the voter turnout was 68.81%.

Prominent candidates in the fray include Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Union ministers Anant Kumar Hegde and Ramesh Jigajinagi, KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre and BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra. Of the 14 seats, Congress is contesting 12 seats and its coalition partner JD(S) two.

Two women are also in the fray — the Bagalkot Lok Sabha segment has its first woman candidate in Congress’ Veena Kashappanavar facing the BJP’s P C Gaddigoudar. In Bijapur, the JD(S) has fielded Sunitha Chavan against Jigajinagi. The regional party has picked Anand Asnotikar against Hegde in Uttara Kannada.

Belgaum has the highest number of candidates contesting the polls at 57, whereas Raichur (ST reserve) has the least at five.

Most of these 14 seats have a significant Veerashaiva-Lingayat population and the BJP is making the most of the controversial “separate Lingayat religion” issue in a bid to consolidate the community’s votes against the Congress. The Congress-JD(S) coalition, meanwhile, is banking on anti-incumbency of sitting Lok Sabha members and is highlighting the “anti-people policies” of the Centre.