Bengaluru, May 12: Hundreds of thousands voted across Karnataka on Saturday in Assembly elections crucial for both the ruling Congress and the BJP, with the JD-S expected to play a key role in the event of a hung house.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was "very very confident" that his party would retain power in the only major southern state it now rules as officials said that nearly a quarter of the over 5.06 crore electorate had voted in the first four hours.
"Average polling percentage in 222 constituencies across the state till 11 a.m, was 24 per cent and 17 per cent in Bengaluru city," said the state's Additional Chief Electoral Officer B.R. Mamatha.
The 11-hour balloting, which began at 7 a.m., picked up momentum in no time to register 10 per cent within two hours.
"Voting has been peaceful by and large barring a few incidents of EVMs not functioning in some booths, missing voter names and procedural delays," another official told IANS.
Many in Bengaluru lined up outside polling centres since 6.30 a.m. to beat the early rush. Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of voter ID cards and cancelled in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar.
In all, voting is being conducted in 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city. The Bharatiya Janata Party's Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was among the first to vote in Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.
Karnataka has over 5.06 crore electorate, including 2.6 crore men and 2.5 crore women. A total of 15.42 lakh voters, aged 18-19, have registered for the first time.
Polling is being held in 58,008 stations in 30 districts across the state, with 600 of them dubbed 'pink booths', overseen by women personnel. Over 1.5 lakh security personnel have been deployed.
The vote count will take place on May 15. In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. A total of 222 are from the Congress and BJP each, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties.
About 450 contestants are in the battle from Bengaluru. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari at Mysuru and Badami in Vijayapura district.
BJP's Lok Sabha member from Ballari 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 are in the fray from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats in the old Mysuru region. BJP state unit President Yeddyurappa is contesting from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district in Malnad region. Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district.