Bengaluru: The 14 Lok Sabha seats of the 28 in Karnataka which went to polls on Thursday, registered a moderate turnout of 66.21 percent but the big shock came from the three urban constituencies in Bengaluru, where polling figures could hardly touch 50% with the searing summer heat and the exodus from the city in view of the four-day holiday, cited as the reasons for this pathetic show by voters of the IT City.
With the first phase of polls in the state over and the fate of over 241 candidates, including three from the family of JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda sealed in ballot boxes, all eyes are now on the second phase on April 23 when the remaining 14 seats including Kalaburagi from where veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge is contesting, will go to polls.
Dakshina Kannada registered the highest turnout of 77.22 percent on Thursday while the three constituencies contested by members of the Deve Gowda family-Mandya, Hassan and Tumakuru- recorded turnouts above 70% indicating that the JD(S) had done its bit in mobilising voters and getting them to the polling booths by whatever means possible.
Mandya, where Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Kumaraswamy is locked in a grim battle with Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh registered a turnout of over 71.77 per cent.
The low turnout in Bengaluru should no doubt leave the BJP's poll managers worried as all three city seats-Bangalore North, Central and South-were won by the party by comfortable margins in 2014. While Bangalore North where Union Minister Sadananda Gowda is facing a determined challenge from Congress candidate Krishna Byregowda, registered a poor 48.28 percent polling compared to 56.53 percent in 2014, Bangalore Central registered 47.31 percent (2014- 55.46%) and Bangalore South, 49.36 percent (55.75 in 2014). The several campaigns launched on social media and by poll officials to up voter turnout had obviously gone in vain with the only consolation coming from Bangalore Rural which registered 68.06 percent.
Among the other seats for which polling got over on Thursday, Tumakuru, where Mr Deve Gowda is contesting, registered 77.03 per cent voting while Hassan (where his grandson Prajwal Revanna is the candidate) registered 76.55 percent. Udupi-Chikkamagalur registered a comfortable turnout of 69.80 percent, Chitradurga, 69.3%, Chamarajnagar, 66.55%, Mysuru, 66.87%, Chikkaballapur, 74.45% and Kolar, 75.61%.
In 11 polling stations across the state, people called for a boycott of polling. While poll officials convinced people to withdraw the boycott in nine of the 11 polling stations, voters of Panjanayahatti in Chitradurga and Obanahalli in Holalkere had refused to budge when reports last came in.
The polling was by and large peaceful though cases of names going missing from the voters' list were reported from some places.
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