Bangalore, Apr 17: Around 26 percent of the 4.62 crore electorate have exercised their franchise till around noon in the single-phase polls today in Karnataka, where the ruling Congress and BJP are battling it out in a hot contest for 28 seats.
Voting across the state got off to a moderate to brisk start, as it began at 7 am and was reported at about 10 per cent in the first two hours and reached around 25 percent in five hours, officials said.
Two officials on poll duty died of heart attack in Belgaum and Tumkur districts, police said.
Polling was proceeding smoothly and peacefully across the state, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), M N Reddy told PTI.
In the prestigeous contest in Bangalore South, where Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is pitted against five-time MP BJP’s Ananth Kumar, the voter turnout was impressive reaching 30 percent around noon.
Polling was however moderate in other two Bangalore Constituencies – North and Central.
Some 85,000 security personnel, including the central forces, are provide security cover across the state with 54,294 polling booths, 8,658 of which are identified as hyper sensitive and 14,400 as sensitive.
The Election Commission has introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system on an experimental basis in Bangalore South, which is among the seven constituencies in the country to be chosen for it.
VVPAT is a printer with drop box. It prints and displays a slip for seven seconds after the vote is cast so that a citizen can also see who they cast their vote for. The slip will then get automatically dropped into the drop box next to the Electronic Voting Machine and can’t be retrieved.
Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, former prime minister and JDS chief H D Deve Gowda (Hassan), former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa (Shimoga) and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur) were among the early voters.
Udupi-Chikkamagalur had reported about 35 per cent voting till noon, topping the constituencies that reported brisk polling, officials said.
The fate of six former Chief Ministers Deve Gowda (Hassan), Yeddyurappa (Shimoga), N Dharam Singh (Bidar), Moily and H D Kumaraswamy (Chikkaballapur) and D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North) would be sealed in today’s polls.
In the 2009 polls, BJP then holding the reins of power had bagged 19 seats, leaving six to Congress and three to JDS.
Both Congress and BJP have been claiming that they are within the striking distance of winning 20 seats. The two parties are in direct face-off for 22 seats and in the rest, JDS is also a serious player.
Arvind Kejriwal‘s Aam Aadmi Party is also seeking to gain a toehold, fielding candidates for all constituencies, the prominent being former Infosys Director Balakrishnan who is in the fray from Bangalore Central.