Voting began in Karnataka on Saturday morning to elect its next government. Over 70 % polling has been recorded in the state. Karnataka, which is ruled by Congress, is witnessing an intense BJP-Congress fight, while on some seats the battle is three-cornered with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s JD(S) in the fray.
The voting is currently held in 222 out of 224 seats, with elections postponed in Jayanagara and Rajarajeswari constituencies.
While the election for the Jayanagara seat in Bengaluru has been countermanded following the death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA BN Vijaykumar, in Rajarajeswari it is deferred till May 28 after the controversy over the seizure of over ten thousand Voter ID cards from a flat.
The run-up to the polls witnessed an intense campaigning by both the contenders with Prime Minister Modi leading the chariot for the BJP and Congress president Rahul Gandhi slugging it out in what is billed as battle for existence of the Congress party.
State BJP chief and party’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, and Pradesh Congress Committee G Parameshwara were among the first to cast votes in Shikaripura in Shivamogga and Yaggere in Tumakuru respectively.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda along with wife Chennamma cast their votes at Paduvalahippe in Hassan district. Film actors Ramesh Arvind, Ravichandran, also scion of Mysuru royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar were among the prominent personalities to cast their votes early today.
“Today people of Karnataka are standing in queues to create history & show the nation the way to liberal, progressive, peaceful & compassionate politics & governance. I thank them for their support & wish them well,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah tweeted.
Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari and Badami seats.
Over 2,600 candidates are in the fray — more than 2400 men and over 200 women. The total voters including service electors according to the 2018 final rolls are 5,06,90,538, of whom 2,56,75,579 male voters, 2,50,09,904 female and 5,055 transgender voters.
Officials said 58,008 polling stations have been set up across the state, of which 12002 have been designated as “critical”, with over 3,50,000 polling personnel on duty.
Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of polls that will go on till 6 pm.
(With inputs from PTI)