Polling for the high-stakes Karnataka assembly elections got underway this morning under a thick security blanket.
In what is projected as a tight race, voting is being held in 222 out of 224 seats in a three-cornered contest among the ruling Congress, the BJP and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda’s JD(S).
The Election Commission yesterday deferred the polls for the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency to May 28 after a massive row erupted over a large number of voter ID cards being found in an apartment.
Election for the Jayanagara seat in Bengaluru was countermanded following the death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA B N Vijaykumar.
Over 2,600 candidates are in the fray-- more than 2,400 men and 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 are male voters, 2,50,09,904 are female and 5,055 are transgender voters.
Officials said that 58,008 polling stations have been set up across the state, of which 12,002 have been designated as “critical”, with over 3.5 lakh polling personnel on duty.
Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of polls that will go on till 6 pm. Counting of votes will take place on May 15.
Over 82,000 people have been deployed for poll duty that include DSPs, home guards and civil defence, and forest guards and watchers.Neelamani N Raju, Director General of Police, Karnataka
This also includes about 7,500 personnel from states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Kerala and Goa, she said, adding that central forces have also been deployed.
The current polls are seen as one of the most complex the state had ever witnessed with many imponderables that have left most analysts to bet on a fractured mandate in a cliffhanger.
One among the interesting aspects of this election is four candidates who have served as chief minister of Karnataka are in the fray -- current incumbent Siddaramaiah (Chamundeshwari and Badami), B S Yeddyurappa (Shikaripura), H D Kumaraswamy (Chennapatna and Ramanagara) and Jagadish Shettar (Hubli-Dharwad Central.)
State electoral authorities have also taken certain new initiatives such as SMS-based polling station access, app-based polling station access and navigation and queue status facility for a few polling stations with higher voter population.