Stage set for Karnataka polls

Karnataka polls
Polling officials carry EVMs as they leave for election duty, in Hubli on the eve of Karnataka Assembly polls on Saturday. PTI Photo

Bangalore, May 4 (PTI): Capping an intense campaign, Karnataka goes to high-stake assembly polls tomorrow amid elaborate security arrangements.

The main players — the ruling BJP, the Congress and JDS — were engaged in high pitched campaigning, as also Karnataka Janatha Party of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who has broken away from BJP.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi led the Congress charge against the beleaguered BJP in the state which is mired in allegations of corruption while Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi spiced up the counter-attack by the ruling party. Some poll surveys have predicted majority for the Congress or it emerging as the single largest party but falling short of a handful of seats, followed by BJP and JDS.

It’s interesting to see how many seats KJP would bag and if Yeddyurappa would be “king-maker” in the post-poll scenario.

As many as 1.35 lakh police personnel — 60,000 from the state, 20,000 homeguards and rest from central paramilitary and neighbouring states — would be deployed to ensure peaceful and smooth conduct of the elections.

Polling would be held from 7 am to 6 pm — timing extended by an hour by an Election Commission order today — in 223 Assembly segments of the total 224. Election in Periyapatna was put off to May 28 following the death of BJP candidate.

There are nearly 3,000 candidates in the fray. Close to 52,000 booths are in place, including about 10,000 hypersensitive and more than 14,000 sensitive ones where the authorities would keep a special vigil with the help of web cameras.

More than 4.36 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise. There are about 35.59 lakh new voters (18-22 age category).

As many as 65,000 electronic voting machines, which include about 10 per cent kept as reserve, are ready to be pressed into service. More than 2.5 lakh poling officers would be on duty.

In the 2008 elections, BJP secured 110 seats, three short of majority, and went on to form the government with the help of five independents who were made Ministers. The Congress bagged 80 seats and the JDS 28.

The BJP secured 33.86 per cent, compared to the Congress’ 34.59 per cent and JDS 19.13 per cent in 2008 polls.

While the overall voter turnout was 64.91 per cent in the 2008 elections, the average in the 28 segments of Bangalore was a low 47.3 per cent. The lowest in Bangalore was in Sarvajnanagar at 35.40 per cent.

The Election Commission and a number of NGOs carried out vigorous campaigns in recent days to boost the voter turnout.



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