Karnataka is all set to vote on Saturday for electing its 15th Legislative Assembly after a fortnight-long bitter campaign by the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). Vote count will take place on May 15.
"Preparations have been made to conduct a free and fair polling in 222 of the 224 assembly constituencies across the state amid tight security," state Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told reporters in Bengaluru on Friday.
The Election Commission (EC) on Friday postponed voting in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari (RR) Nagar segment to May 28 in the voter ID cards case, and earlier countermanded polling in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijay Kumar on May 4.
A single-phase polling will be held in 222 constituencies, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 26 in Bengaluru from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The state has over 4.97 crore electorate, including 2.52 crore men and 2.45 crore women. New voters are 15,42,000 in the 18-19 age group.
Voting will be held at 58,008 polling stations in 30 districts across the state, with 600 of them marked as pink booths, manned by all-women personnel, and 28 ethnic booths.
"Around 3.6 lakh personnel will be on duty from dawn to dusk at all polling stations with required facilities to enable the electorate cast their vote in EVMs comprising 94,841 balloting units and 84,830 controlling units that are connected to Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs)," said Kumar.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident at all the polling stations.
"About 1,40,000 security personnel have been deployed for the election, with para-military forces from 585 central and state companies at 20,826 polling stations, including 12,001 critical or hyper-sensitive booths," state Director-General of Police Neelamani Raju told the media.
In the state capital (Bengaluru), about 10,500 police personnel, 4,500 armed forces and 2,5000 home guards have been deployed at 7,400 polling booths in 26 constituencies across the city.
"As 1,469 polling booths among them have been identified as sensitive, we have deployed additional forces, including 150 senior officers to supervise the election process," said Bengaluru Police Commissioner T. Sunil Kumar.
In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. In all, 222 candidates are from Congress, 222 from BJP, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and over 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties. About 450 contestants are in the battle from Bengaluru, which has the largest number (28) of seats in the state.
Of the prominent candidates, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari at Mysuru and Badami in Vijayapura district in the state's northwest region.
BJP's Lok Sabha member from Ballari (ST) seat B R Sriramaulu is also contesting from two seats, including Badami and Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district
JD-S state President and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is in fray from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats in the old Mysuru region.
BJP's state unit president and its chief ministerial nominee B S Yeddyurappa is contesting from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district in Malnad region.
Siddaramaiah has also fielded his son Yatindra from his home town Varuna in Mysuru district.