An estimated 67.79 per cent voter turnout was reported in the elections to 14 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in the first phase on Thursday with the polls being by and large peaceful with no major incident reported. The main contest is between the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance and the BJP. The key constituency of Mandya, where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil is pitted against actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, recorded the highest voter turnout of about 80.23 per cent.
The lowest turnout was reported in Bangalore Central constituency with 49.75 per cent, election officials said. In other constituencies of the city that has a history of low voter turnout, Bangalore North recorded 50.51 per cent, Bangalore South 54.12 per cent and Bangalore Rural 64.09 per cent.
"These are tentative final figures....it may go up. it is better than last election," a senior poll official said, adding that the election was by and large peaceful, with no major incident reported.
Voter turnout was at 68.68 per cent in these 14 Lok Sabha constituencies during the 2014 Parliamentary election. Polling began at 7 am in 30,164 polling stations of 14 constituencies that are in the southern part of the state, covering almost the entire old Mysuru region and few coastal districts.
In Tumkur, where former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is locked in a tough contest with G S Basavaraj of BJP, 77.01 per cent turnout was reported. Hassan where Gowda’s other grandson Prajwal Revanna is contesting against A Manju of BJP, reported 77.28 per cent polling. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s home turf of Mysore where sitting MP Prathap Simha of BJP is fighting against Vijayshankar of Congress saw 68.85 per cent polling.
Mandya, Mysore, Tumkur and Hassan are the constituencies where the ruling Congress-JD(S) faced dissidence among grassroot party workers as they were upset with the seat sharing arrangement. Both parties, which have been fighting against each other for decades, joined hands to form the government after the assembly polls last year as the election threw up a hung verdict.
As per the alliance arrangement, both parties decided to fight the Lok Sabha polls together which is something that the leadership of the Congress and JD(S) has not been able to convince their party men. In Mandya, the rebellion within Congress came out in the open as many of them supported Sumalatha.
With transfer of votes between Congress and JD(S) crucial for the alliance partners, especially in the old Mysuru region to defeat the BJP, the palpable dissidence and mistrust among workers of both parties in constituencies like Mandya, Mysore, Hassan, Tumkur are causing worry for the leadership.
Any adverse result is likely to have its impact on the longevity of the coalition government in the state. The BJP, which has set a target of bagging at least 22 out of the total 28 seats, is hoping to win the maximum number of seats in the first phase riding on the “Modi wave”.
Of the 14 constituencies that went to the polls, the BJP and Congress had won six each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and JD(S) in two. While the BJP is contesting in 13 constituencies and supporting Sumalatha, Congress and JD(S) have fielded candidates in 10 and four constituencies respectively.
Dakshina Kannada recorded 77.70 per cent polling, Udupi-Chikmagalur 75.26 per cent, Chitradurga 70.59 per cent, Chamarajnagar 73.45 per cent, Chikkaballapur 76.14 per cent and Kolar 75.94 per cent. Voting began at 7 am 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 were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase with 241 candidates in the fray.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda along with wife Chennamma, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy along with wife Anita and son Nikhil, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the scion of Mysuru royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar along with wife Trishika, pontiffs Siddalinga Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt and Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of Suttur mutt were among prominent personalities who cast their vote.
Also exercising their franchise were Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy along with wife Sudha, IT czar Nandan Nilekani, Kannada actors Ramesh Arvind and Sudeep.
In Mangaluru and Udupi, two brides cast their votes ahead of their marriage Thursday, while in Madikeri a bridegroom was seen entering the poll booth to cast his vote in traditional attire.
According to reports, two centenarians, one each in Dakshina Kannada district and Bengaluru, cast their vote. A poll officer on reserve duty died of heart attack in Chamaraja assembly segment under Mysore Lok Sabha constituency, officials said.
The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in northern districts, will go to polls in the second phase on April 23.