Karnataka goes to the polls

Bangalore, May 5 (IANS) Polling began early Sunday for the 14th Karnataka legislative assembly on a brisk note, despite hot weather prevailing across the state.

With the Election Commission (EC) advancing commencement of polling by an hour to 7 a.m., hundreds of voters made a beeline to booths in many of the 223 assembly constituencies to cast their vote through electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The EC has also extended the duration of polling by an hour to 6 p.m., in view of the scorching summer heat across the state, including Bangalore.

Though the state assembly has an elected strength of 224 seats, polling in the Periyapatna segment of Mysore district has been countermanded, following the death of ruling BJP candidate Sannamoge Gowda April 29; polling has now been rescheduled to May 28.

“Voting process began on a peaceful note in all the 223 constituencies across the state under tight security. It started slowly and is picking up well,” a poll official told IANS nearly an hour after the exercise got underway.

In all, 52,034 polling booths have been set up across the 223 assembly segments, with 10,103 of them declared hyper sensitive and 14,209 sensitive.

Of the state’s 61.13 million population, 43.6 million are registered voters, including 22.22 million men and 21.35 women. First-time voters in the age group of 18-22 years are 3.55 million.

As the state capital, Bangalore has the largest number of voters – 7.03 million out of a total population of 10 million, and the highest number of assembly segments – 28.

Among the eligible voters in this tech hub, 534,548 are new, as they enrolled for this election since January.

“We have formed about 2,000 flying squads comprising five members each, including a photographer and a videographer to record the proceedings and ensure free and fair voting,” the official said.

About 253,000 officials from state and central governments and state-run organisations are on poll duty, with 48,182 police personnel outside booths and about 100,000 additional forces deployed around booths to maintain law and order.

Total number of candidates in the fray is 2,948, including 2,778 men and 170 women.

Major political parties such as the ruling BJP, the Congress, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the newly formed Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) are contesting in all the 223 constituencies across the state.

The votes will be counted May 8.

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