Voting began on a moderate to brisk note this morning in the single-phase elections for 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka amid tight security.
In the initial two hours, the voting percentage across the state hovered around 10 per cent, officials said, adding, polling had been peaceful so far. The three constituencies in Bangalore– South, Central and North– saw enthusiastic voters queue up in good numbers in the initial hours.
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, as the exercise began with about 4.62 crore voters eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 435 candidates.
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Nearly 85,000 security personnel drawn from the state and central forces are keeping a watch to ensure peaceful conduct of the polls, with armed police force from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra also on duty. State electoral officials said of the 54,000 odd polling stations, 11,424 have been declared hypersensitive and 14,968 sensitive with over 2.95 lakh polling personnel, including 1.18 lakh women, on duty.
The ruling Congress in the state and BJP are locked in a fierce bipolar contest in 22 constituencies and in the rest, it is a three-way race with JDS being a serious contender.
Congress and BJP have both set the 20-plus seat target. In the 2009 polls, BJP had won 19 seats, Congress six and JDS three.
Keenly watched constituencies include Bangalore South where Infosys co-founder and the richest candidate in the electoral fray in the country Nandan Nilekani is locked in a tough fight with BJP’s Ananth Kumar, a five-time MP. Others whose fate will be decided are Yeddyurappa (Shimoga), Gowda (Hassan) and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur).