About 24 percent polling was recorded within the first four hours after voting began for the fiercely fought Karnataka Assembly polls this morning. Polling is being held in a single phase for 222 out of 224 seats in a three-cornered contest among the ruling Congress, the BJP and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda's JD(S). According to state electoral authorities, the highest 31 percent voting was recorded in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts respectively at 11 am while Bengaluru urban recorded the lowest at 17 percent. Moderate to brisk polling was reported from all over the state, officials said. Voters turned up in large numbers in the city and were seen standing in long queues to cast their franchise in the early hours in pleasant weather with rainfall last evening bringing down the temperature. The weatherman has forecast that the temperature may go up later in the day. Senior citizens were seen in good numbers standing in queues at various polling stations. State BJP chief and party's chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, and Pradesh Congress Committee chief G Parameshwara were among the first to cast their votes at Shikaripura in Shivamogga and Yaggere in Tumakuru respectively. Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda along with wife Chennamma cast their votes at Paduvalahippe in Hassan district. The seer of a prominent Lingayat seminary Siddhaganga Mutt, Sri Shivakumara Swamiji, said to be 111-years-old, also cast his vote at a booth near the mutt premises.
Cricketer Rahul Dravid, the state election icon, another cricketer Anil Kumble, film actors Ramesh Arvind, Ravichandran and scion of Mysuru royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar were among the early voters. Technical glitches in electronic voting machines (EVMs) delayed polling at several places in Bengaluru. A bride in Madikeri cast her vote in wedding attire before attending the marriage ceremony. At some places, "Thank You" cards were given to voters for exercising their franchise. In one of the most bitter electoral battles the state has ever seen, the ruling Congress and the BJP went all out to woo voters during their acrimonious campaign that saw the top leaders of both parties crisscrossing the state. The election for the Jayanagara seat in Bengaluru has been countermanded following the death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA B N Vijaykumar. The Election Commission has also deferred the polls for Rajarajeswari Nagar constituency to May 28 after a massive row erupted over a large number of voter ID cards being found in an apartment.
Over 2,600 candidates are in the fray-- more than 2400 men and over 200 women. The total voters including service electors according to the 2018 final rolls are 5,06,90,538, of whom 2,56,75,579 male voters, 2,50,09,904 female and 5,055 transgender voters. Officials said 58,008 polling stations have been set up across the state, of which 12002 have been designated as "critical", with over 3,50,000 polling personnel on duty. Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of polls that will go on until 6 pm. "82,157 people have been deployed for poll duty that includes DSPs, home guards and civil defense, and forest guards and watchers," Karnataka DGP Neelamani N Raju said. It also includes about 7,500 personnel from states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Kerala, and Goa, she said, adding, central forces have been deployed.