Karnataka polls: 15% turnout till now, clashes reported in Kolar

Bangalore: Just about 15 percent of the 43.6 million voters have cast their ballot till 11 am in the 14th Karnataka assembly polls on Sunday, an official said here.

"Polling is on in a peaceful manner across the state and about 15 percent voting has taken place by 11 am," a spokesperson of the state election authorities told reporters. Booths opened at 7 am and will close at 6 pm.

The polling began on a brisk note, despite hot weather conditions across the state. The votes will be counted May 8.

CNN IBN reports that while the turn-out might have been low, there have been reports of clashes between Congress party workers and supporters of an independent candidate Varthur Prakash in Kolar.

Representative image. AFP.

Representative image. AFP.

With the Election Commission (EC) advancing commencement of polling by an hour to 7 a.m., hundreds of voters made a beeline to booths in many of the 223 assembly constituencies to cast their vote through electronic voting machines (EVMs).

But in four hours of voting, polling was just about 15 percent.

The EC has also extended the duration of polling by an hour to 6 p.m., in view of the scorching summer heat across the state, including Bangalore.

Polling is being held for 223 of the state assembly's 224 elected seats. Election from the Periyapatna constituency of Mysore district has been countermanded, following the death of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Sannamoge Gowda April 29. Polling there has now been rescheduled for May 28. One seat in the state assembly is reserved for the Ango-Indian community member, who is nominated.

"The voting process began on a peaceful note in all the 223 constituencies across the state under tight security. It started slowly and is picking up well," a poll official told IANS nearly an hour after the exercise got underway.

In all, 52,034 polling booths have been set up across the 223 assembly segments, with 10,103 of them declared hyper-sensitive and 14,209 as sensitive.

Of the state's 61.13 million population, 43.6 million are registered voters, including 22.22 million men and 21.35 million women. First-time voters in the age group of 18-22 years are 3.55 million.

As the state capital, Bangalore has the largest number of voters, 7.03 million of a total population of 10 million, and the highest number of assembly segments at 28.

Among the eligible voters in this tech hub, 534,548 are new, as they enrolled for this election in January.

"We have formed about 2,000 flying squads comprising five members each, including a photographer and a video-grapher to record the proceedings and ensure free and fair voting," the poll official said.

About 253,000 officials from state and central governments and state-run organisations are on poll duty, with 48,182 police personnel outside booths and about 100,000 additional forces deployed around booths to maintain law and order.

Total number of candidates in the fray is 2,948 - 2,778 of them men and 170 women.

Major political parties such as the ruling BJP, the Congress, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the newly formed Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) - a party of the BJP rebels led by its first chief minister in southern states B.S. Yeddyurappa - are contesting in all the 223 constituencies across the state.

IANS