An estimated 65 per cent of the 4.62 crore voters in Karnataka exercised their franchise on Thursday for 28 Lok Sabha seats in the single-phase polls in which the ruling Congress and BJP are playing for high stakes.
The elections held under the watchful eyes of some 85,000 security personnel, including the central forces, passed off peacefully with no major untoward incident, officials said.
Voting ranged from moderate to brisk in the initial hours touching about 25 per cent till around noon but gathered pace reaching 47 per cent at 3 pm and 60 per cent by 5 pm, Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said.
Polling in the three constituencies of Bangalore – South, Central and North – was more than 50 per cent till 5 pm, he said, adding that the final polling percentage would go up further.
A total of 435 candidates are in the fray with BJP expecting upswing in its fortunes after the bitter defeat in the 2013 Assembly polls when it lost power to Congress, which on the other side, is hoping to replicate its performance.
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In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the final voting percentage was 58.81. The then ruling party BJP had won 19 seats, Congress six and JDS three.
In a tragic note to the election process, two polling officials died of heart attack in Belgaum and Tumkur districts, police said.
Among the key contestants are Nandan Nilekani, former Infosys co-founder and the richest candidate in the fray with his and wife’s declared wealth of over Rs 7,700 crore, who is locked in a close fight with five-time MP BJP’s Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South.