Half of Karnataka, constituents of the 14 Parliamentary constituencies of south and central Karnataka will vote on Thursday to elect their representatives for the Lower House of Parliament in the second phase of polling on April 18. The remaining constituencies will vote on April 23.
The seats that go for polls in this phase are Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga, Tumakuru, Mandya, Mysuru-Kodagu, Chamarajanagara, Bengaluru Central, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru Rural, Bengaluru South, Chikkaballapura and Kolar and will have a total of 242 candidates in the fray.
Elections in the 14 Lok Sabha seats will be held between 7am to 6pm with a total of little over 2.67 crore voters across 30,000-plus polling stations.
Out of the 14 seats, three seats — Kolar, Chamrajanagar and Chitradurga are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. Polling in the remaining 14 seats will be held in the west coast and northern regions of the state in the third phase on April 23.
"Elaborate arrangements have been made across the state's central and southern regions for free and fair polling in 30,164 booths spread over 14 Parliamentary seats from 7am to 6pm. amid tight security," State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sanjiv Kumar told IANS.
All these seats will see a straight fight between the BJP and the candidate of JD(S)-Congress alliance except in Mandya where BJP is backing actor Sumalatha, wife of actor-politician Ambareesh. Other than Sumalatha, other prominent independent candidates include multilingual actor-turned-politician Prakash Raj. The JD(S), the junior partner of the coalition has high stakes in the battle of the ballot as three members of the Gowda clan are in the fray.
According to Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) Neelamani Raju, Bengaluru Rural, Hassan, Mandya and Tumakuru are the vulnerable constituencies where additional police forces have been deployed for peaceful and smooth conduct of polling.
4,826 booths have been categorised sensitive. These booths will be manned with extra security personnel to prevent any form of violence.
In addition to 49,476 police personnel, the Election Commission has roped in Civil Defence, jail wardens and five companies of Central Armed Police Force, along with platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police platoons.
"Of the total booths, 16% or 4,826 are considered critical in the four seats identified by the police. We are deploying about 91,000 police personnel on election duty in two phases on April 18 and April 23 to ensure peaceful polling and maintain law and order," Raju said in a statement.
While on normal booths, one police constable and the head constable will be on duty, in critical booths, one head constable and the home guard will maintain security.