A record 67 per cent voter turnout was reported from Karnataka’s 14 Lok Sabha seats when polling ended at 6 pm, peacefully, said an official on Thursday.
“The estimated voter turnout at the end of 11-hour polling in 30,164 booths spanning 14 parliamentary seats is 66.59 per cent, which may go up slightly, as there were still many in queues when gates were shut at 6 pm,” a senior poll official told IANS.
The highest polling — 77.60 per cent — was registered in Dakshina Kannada, followed by 76 per cent in Tumkur, 75.94 per cent in Hassan, 75.65 per cent in Kolar (SC), 75.13 per cent in Udupi-Chikmagalur, 74.56 per cent in Mandya and 74.28 per cent in Chikkabalapur.
The lowest polling was recorded in India’s tech hub with 45.97 per cent in Bangalore Central, followed by 48.64 per cent in Bangalore North and 51.55 per cent in Bangalore South.
In contrast, Bangalore Rural, 40km from the city centre, witnessed a high of 68.72 per cent when polling concluded.
Polling percentage in the remaining seats are Chamarajanagar 73.07 per cent, Chitradurga (SC), 69.03 per cent and Mysore 66.87 per cent.
Though polling began on a dull note in the rural areas, it was brisk in cities and towns with hundreds of voters queuing up at the booths to exercise their franchise.
An estimated 2.67-crore voters, including 1.35-crore males and 1.32-crore females were on the electoral rolls to decide the fate of 241 candidates, including 15 women and 133 Independents.
AIn all, 52,112 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were used, with 36,196 controlling units and 37,705 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit (VVPATs) that allowed voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly.
Among the constituencies, Bangalore North had the highest number of 31 candidates, followed by 25 in Bangalore South and 22 each in Bangalore Central, Mandya and Mysore.
The lowest number of candidates is six in Hassan, followed by 10 in Chamarajnagar, 12 in Udupi-Chikmagalur and 13 in Dakshina Kannada.
Key constituencies in the first phase were all the three seats in Bangalore, Mandya, Hassan and Tumkur.
Unlike in the past elections, the main parties – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are locked in straight contests this time, as the latter entered into a pre-poll tie-up with the ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) to field joint candidates as part of their seat-sharing arrangement.
Of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Congress is in fray 21 and seven by JD-S. In the first phase, Congress has contested from 10 and JD-S from four seats.
The BJP is in fray in 13 seats and supported multi-lingual South Indian actress Sumalatha Ambareesh contesting as an Independent in the high-profile Mandya seat where JD-S has nominated Nikhil Gowda.
Nikhil, an upcoming Kannada film star, is the son of state chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and grandson of JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, who shifted to contest from Tumkur, paving the way for his other grandson Prajwal Gowda from Hassan, a bastion of the powerful dynastic Gowda clan.
In India’s tech hub, BJP and Congress are again locked in straight contests.
The BJP’s outgoing member Union Minister D.V. Sadananada Gowda has re-contested from Bangalore North for the second time, while its two-time sitting member P.C. Mohan is trying for a hat-trick from the prestigious Bangalore Central.
The Congress has fielded Krishna Byre Gowda against Sadananada Gowda in the Bangalore North, where the politically dominant Vokkaliga community are present in large numbers.
In the high-profile Bangalore South, the BJP has fielded Tejasvi Surya, in place of former Union Minister A.H. Ananth Kumar, who died last November. Kumar represented the seat for a record six times since 1996.
Surya, a 28-year-old lawyer in the Karnataka High Court and a member of the RSS, is pitted against B.K. Hariprasad, a Congress Rajya Sabha member.
Former Congress ministers in the UPA government – M. Veerappa Moily and K.H. Muniyappa contested from Chikkaballapur and Kolar.
BJP’s Nalin Kumar Kateel and Pratap Simha re-contested from Dakshina Kannada and Mysore to retain the seats for the third and second time.
Polling in the remaining 14 parliamentary seats in the western and northern regions of the state will be held on April 23. Vote count will be on May 23.