Around 55 percent voting in first phase of Karnataka polls (Third Lead)

May 10th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Bangalore, May 10 (IANS) About 55 percent of 17.3 million eligible voters Saturday voted in 89 constituencies across 11 southern districts of Karnataka in the first phase of assembly elections. Bangalore recorded the lowest with around 40 percent turnout while Bangalore rural, Tumkur, Chamarajanagar and Chikkaballapur districts saw over 60 percent balloting. The polling was largely peaceful though the police used batons at two places - in Gandhinagar in Bangalore to disperse voters protesting missing names from the electoral list and in Varuna in Mysore district where people demonstrated against an official for allegedly seeking votes in favour of Congress candidate Siddaramaiah, a former deputy chief minister.

The official was removed from duty.

According to official sources, at the end of polling at 5 p.m., 43 percent had voted in Bangalore city, Bangalore rural, Tumkur, Chikkaballapur and Chamarajnagar saw 60 percent, Hassan, Kolar and Mandya around 53 percent, Ramanagaram 55 percent, and Mysore and Kodagu over 45 percent.

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.

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.

Over 950 candidates were in the fray Saturday. The Karnataka assembly has 224 seats.

Voting was 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.

Prominent among Saturday’s candidates were 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 said.

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).”

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

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