500 companies of paramilitary force sought for Karnataka polls

Bangalore, March 21 (IANS) About 500 companies of paramilitary forces will be deployed for conducting a free and fair election to the Karnataka legislative assembly May 5, state election officials said Thrusday.

“We have sought services of 500 companies (each comprising 80-100 personnel) of paramilitary forces from the home ministry for deployment across the state to conduct the assembly election in a single phase. In addition to them, we will avail services of the state police force, including home guards,” state chief electoral officer Anil Kumar Jha told IANS.
The combined strength of the paramilitary forces will be about 40,000-50,000 personnel, drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other units.
Similarly, about 40,000 personnel from the state forces, including the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP), Armed Reserved Constabulary (ARC), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and home guards will be pressed into service to maintain law and order during the poll process.
“The deployment of central and state forces will begin three weeks before the polling day (May 5) as the election will be held simultaneously in 224 assembly constituencies on a single day across the state.
“The number of personnel in each constituency will be determined by local requirements. More personnel will be required in hyper-sensitive areas and accordingly in sensitive booths,” Jha said.
Of the 224 assembly segments, 36 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for Scheduled Tribes (STs) across the state as per the 2008 delimitation exercise.
As on date, though the state has total electorate of 4,18,75,267, including 2,13,85,611 male voters and 2,04,50,805 female voters, Jha said new voters would be registered till April 7 to ensure that every eligible voter has the democratic right to vote.
In addition, 36,726 voters working in the armed services, including 27,944 men and 8,782 women will have the right to vote through postal ballots from the location of their posting.
“The total electorate (around 42 million) accounts for 66 percent of the state’s population (around 61 million) as per the 2011 census. In Bangalore, we have given EPIC (electors photo identity cards) to 62 percent of the electorate and the target is 65 percent before the polling date,” Jha pointed out.
“We are also conducting a Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) campaign to encourage the people to vote, especially in Bangalore where the poll percentage in the 2008 assembly election at 44 percent was far below the state’s average of about 65 percent,” he said.
The state election commission has received about 43,000 applications from the 28 assembly segments across Bangalore pointing out errors in the entry of voters’ details, including names and addresses.
“We have also received about 2,82,000 applications from across till date for inclusion in the voters’ list and the exercise is on to give them EPIC. We will also be issuing photo identity cards till May 4 for those who do not register for EPIC to ensure maximum number of electorate exercise their francise,” Jha said.
The three-member poll panel, headed by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath will be visiting Bangalore next week to review the poll preparedness.