An estimated 36.31 per cent voter turnout was reported till 1 PM on Thursday in Karnataka, where 14 Lok Sabha constituencies are going to the polls in the first phase. The Congress-JD(S) alliance and BJP are in a direct contest in Karnataka. The highest turnout was recorded in Dakshina Kannada district with 48.84 per cent and the lowest in Bangalore central with 28.65 per cent till 1 pm, poll officials said.
The other constituencies in Bangalore region which reported low turn out are-Bangalore North 29.69 per cent, Bangalore South 30.70 and Bangalore Rural 32.36.
In Mandya, where Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil is pitted against multi-lingual actress Sumalatha Ambareesh in what is perceived to be a cliff-hanger contest, the voter turnout was 37.69 per cent.
Alliance partner Congress’ grassroot level workers and leaders’ opposition to Nikhil’s candidature is worrying Kumaraswamy in Mandya, where both parties have been bitter rivals for decades.
There is much at stake for the ruling Congress-JD(S) combine in this polls with ground level workers of both parties unhappy with the seat-sharing arrangement between the parties, considering the rivalry they share in seats like Mysore, Hassan, Tumkur, Chikkaballapura, including Mandya.
With the transfer of votes between the parties crucial for coalition candidates to defeat BJP, it remains to be seen how things will work out at the ground level.
Any adverse results are likely to have an impact on the coalition government in the state.
JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda is contesting from Tumkur, as he vacated Hassan seat that he has been contesting for his other grandson Prajwal Revanna.
The coalition, especially Congress, aims to make gains in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi-Chikmagalur, where BJP is dominant, with saffron party’s Naalin Kumar Kateel and Shobha Karandlaje respectively seeking re-election.
On the other hand, BJP aims to better its performance compared to 2014 Lok Sabha polls, riding on the “Modi wave”.
Of the 14 constituencies going to the polls, BJP and Congress had won six each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and JD(S) in two.
While BJP is contesting in 13 constituencies and supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya, Congress and JD(S) have fielded their candidates in 10 and four constituencies respectively.
Polling began at 7am in 30,164 polling stations that are mostly in the southern parts of the state, covering almost the entire old Mysuru region and a few coastal districts.
A total of 2,67,51,893 voters are expected to make their choice from among 241 candidates in the fray during the first phase.
Among the 241 candidates, 224 are men and 17 women.
While the highest number of 31 candidates are from Bangalore North, the least is in Hassan with six candidates.
The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in northern districts, will go to the polls in the second phase on April 23.