15 percent voting in first phase of Karnataka polls(Lead)

May 10th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Bangalore, May 10 (IANS) About 15 percent voting was reported in the first three hours of polling Saturday in 89 constituencies across 11 southern districts of Karnataka in the first phase of assembly elections. Around 17.3 million voters, including 8.4 million women, are eligible to pick their representatives from over 950 candidates. There are 17 women contestants. The Karnataka assembly has 224 seats.

Voting is being held in 18,562 polling stations for 28 seats in Bangalore Urban district, four in Bangalore Rural district, 11 each in Mysore and Tumkur, seven each in Mandya and Hassan, six in Kolar, five in Chikkaballapur, four each in Ramanagaram and Chamarajanagar, and two in Kodagu.

Officials told IANS that though polling began on a dull note in many booths across Bangalore during the first hour due to chilly weather, the exercise picked up from 8.30 a.m. and has been peaceful so far.

“Voters began trooping into polling stations one by one in the first hour and in greater numbers since 8 a.m. We are seeing more turnout in thickly populated areas and slums than in housing colonies. Voting in middle class areas is yet to gather momentum,” said an official at a polling booth in K.R. Pura constituency on the outskirts of the city.

Prominent among the candidates are Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting H.M. Ambareesh from Congress in Srirangapatna, former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah of Congress in Varuna near Mysore and Parimala Nagappa of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from Hannur segment in Chamarajanagar.

Among the politicians who voted early were Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, his two sons H.D. Revanna and H.D. Kumaraswamy as well as their wives.

Gowda and his wife voted in their village at Hassan, about 200 km from here, while Revanna and his wife cast their vote at Holenarsipur in Hubli district where he is pitted against G. Anupama, daughter-in-law of former Congress leader Puttaswamy Gowda.

“We are not depending on individuals or castes for votes. We are maintaining equidistance from the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” Gowda told reporters after casting his vote.

Former chief minister Kumaraswamy and wife cast their votes at Bidadi, about 30 km from here, although he is contesting for the second time from Ramanagaram, about 40 km from India’s silicon hub.

After exercising his franchise, a beaming Kumaraswamy, pitted against Mamatha Nichani of Congress, said the JD-S would either secure majority to form the new government on its own or become a kingmaker and decide which party will form the government.

Reports from other constituencies in the old Mysore region indicated about 20 percent of voting in semi-urban and rural areas. According to one official in Mysore, the electorate had been eager to vote early to avoid lengthy queues and the scorching sun.

There were a few complaints of missing names, wrong entries in voters’ photo identity cards, faulty electronic voting machines (EVMs) and delays in locating booths due to changes in constituencies after delimitation.

The Election Commission has deployed hundreds of officials.

About 50,000 police personnel have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling. Of the 18,562 booths, 6,252, including 2,000 in Bangalore Urban district, have been dubbed “hypersensitive” — official jargon to mean they could see violence.

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