40 percent voting till afternoon in first phase of Karnataka polls (Second Lead)

May 10th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Bangalore, May 10 (IANS) Around 40 percent voting was reported till Saturday afternoon in 89 constituencies across 11 southern districts of Karnataka in the first phase of assembly elections. The voting was marred by a slew of complaints from people in several constituencies, including Bangalore city, that their names were missing.

In upmarket R.T. Nagar area in Bangalore, scores of people demonstrated holding aloft their photo identity cards as their names were not found in the voters’ lists.

Similar complaints came from Koramangala, another upmarket locality in Bangalore, and several of the 10 other districts, including Mysore and Tumkur, where polling is on.

In Varuna constituency in Mysore district from where prominent Congress leader Siddaramaiah is contesting, police charged with batons a group of people protesting against a poll official who was allegedly canvassing for Siddaramaiah.

The official, whose name was not made public, has since been removed from duty.

In Hebbal in Bangalore city, police arrested 30 people for attempting bogus voting.

There was brisk polling in thickly populated areas and slums in Bangalore city whereas it was slow in middle-class and upmarket areas.

Among the leaders who voted within hours of polling beginning at 7 a.m. were former chief minister and Janata Dal-Secular candidate in Ramanagaram H.D. Kumaraswamy near Bidadi on the outskirts of Bangalore and former Congress chief minister S.M. Krishna in his home town Somanahalli in Mandya district, about 80 km from here.

Kumaraswamy’s father and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and his other son H.D. Revanna, who is contesting from Holenarsipur, voted in their home district Hassan.

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 polling began on a dull note in many booths across Bangalore during the first hour due to chilly weather, but it picked up from 8.30 a.m.

“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 Saturday’s candidates are union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting H.M. Ambareesh from the 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.

After casting his vote, a beaming Kumaraswamy, pitted against Mamatha Nichani of Congress, said the JD-S would secure majority to form the new government on its own. “I will be king and not kingmaker,” he told reporters.

His father Deve Gowda said in Hassan: “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).”

The Election Commission has deployed hundreds of officials to oversee polling.

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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