All set for second phase voting Friday in Karnataka

May 15th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by admin  

Bangalore, May 15 (IANS) Over 55,000 security personnel and almost an equal number of poll officials were Thursday all set to conduct balloting Friday in 66 assembly constituencies in the second phase of elections to the 224-member Karnataka assembly. All eyes are on Shikaripura in Shimoga district from where Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yediyurappa is seeking re-election. Also in the limelight is the iron-ore rich Bellary district where a BJP candidate is reportedly absconding after allegedly assaulting a Congress worker on the poll eve.

Over 11 million people are eligible to vote to decide the fate of 589 candidates, an overwhelming majority of whom are independents.

Polling will take place in over 12,000 booths in the districts of Raichur, Koppal, Uttara Kannada, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davangere, Shimoga, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada.

Of the 12,271 booths, 3,754 have been classified as hypersensitive - having high possibility of violence during voting - and 4,282 as sensitive.

Of the total 56,000 security personnel on duty Friday, 21,000 are from the state police, 22,000 from the para military force, 10,000 are home guards and 3,000 from the state reserve police, additional director general of police Shankar Bidari told IANS.

About 500 personnel from the state anti-naxal force are being deployed in Maoist affected districts of Udupi, Shimoga and Chikmagalur.

Security personnel on duty in these areas have been told to shoot-at-sight if Maoists attempt to disrupt the polls. The left extremists have been distributing pamphlets in some areas calling for election boycott.

The second phase battle is mainly between the Congress and the BJP as the third major player in Karnataka politics, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) headed by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, does not have much support in these districts.

JD-S’s main base is in the 11 districts which went to polls in the first phase May 10 to elect 89 of the 224 members in the state assembly.

The third phase polling is May 22 for 69 seats in eight districts in north Karnataka. Counting is on May 25.

The second phase is also an all-important one for BJP as its chief ministerial candidate Yediyurappa is facing a tough battle against former chief minister and state Samajwadi Party president S. Bangarappa in Shikaripura, about 330 km from Bangalore.

While Yediyurappa has dominated Shikaripura’s political scene for over two decades, Bangarappa has lorded over the rest of Shimoga district for over three decades. This is the first time he is contesting from Shikaripura while for Yediyurappa it is the seventh time.

Yediyurappa has won from Shikaripura five times and lost once, in the 1999 polls.

Bangarappa’s home constituency is neighbouring Sorab which has now become a battleground among his two sons - the elder one is seeking re-election on Congress ticket and the younger one is fighting as Samajwadi Party candidate.

The other poll battle attracting attention is in the politically volatile iron-ore rich Bellary district, where both BJP and the Congress have fielded mining magnates for the Bellary city seat.

G. Somashekara Reddy of BJP is taking on Anil Lad of the Congress in a straight fight as JD-S candidate M. Diwakar Babu retired from the contest Monday in support of Lad.

In the neighbouring Davangere district’s Harapanahalli constituency, former JD-S deputy chief minister and now Congress nominee M.P. Prakash is taking on BJP’s G. Karunakara Reddy, also a mining baron from Bellary. Reddy is now a member of the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, former Karnataka minister B. Sriramulu (BJP) went missing Thursday after allegedly assaulting a Congress worker in Gandhinagar area of Bellary city.

The Congress activist suffered head injuries and was being treated in a Bellary hospital.

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