Voting process begins for 17 seats in Karnataka (Lead)

Bangalore, April 23 (Inditop) Nearly 29,000 polling booths opened at 7 a.m. across 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka Thursday in the first of the two-phase election for the 28 seats in the state.

About 20.6 million voters, including 10.3 million women, are eligible to vote to decide the fortunes of 271 candidates in the fray.

About 100,000 poll officials and 60,000 security personnel are on duty in 28,997 booths in the Bangalore South, Bangalore Central, Bangalore North, Bangalore Rural, Chikkodi, Raichur (Scheduled Tribes), Belgaum, Bijapur (Scheduled Castes), Gulbarga (SC), Bidar, Koppal, Bellary (ST), Uttara Kannada, Chitradurga (SC), Tumkur, Chikkaballapur and Kolar (SC) constituencies.

Ten percent of the polling booths are being treated as hyper-sensitive as there is a possibility of violence or disorder.

In this Karnataka capital and neighbouring areas, around 16,000 security personnel are to keep vigil at 5,905 polling booths in the Bangalore South, Central, North and parts of Bangalore Rural and Chikkaballapur constituencies.

More than 1,000 polling booths in these areas are considered hyper-sensitive, according Bangalore city police commissioner Shankar Bidari.

Of the 17 constituencies, focus in on Bangalore South from where BJP general secretary and former central minister H.N. Ananth Kumar is seeking election for the fifth consecutive time.

He is facing state Youth Congress president Krishna Byre Gowda, a two-time assembly member.

Budget airline pioneer Capt. G.R. Gopinath has enlivened the contest by entering the fray as an Independent. Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) nominee is a retired professor of English, K.E. Radhakrishna.

Thursday’s voting will decide the fate of three former chief ministers: N. Dharam Singh from Bidar and M. Veerappa Moily (both Congress) from Chikballapur and H.D. Kumaraswamy (JD-S) from Bangalore Rural.

Others in the fray include nine-time legislator and Congress Working Committee member Mallikarjun Kharge and BJP state minister Revu Naik Belagami in Gulbarga, the BJP’s D.B. Chandre Gowda and Congress veteran and former railways minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief in Bangalore North.

Former super cop H.T. Sangliana, who walked over to the Congress from the BJP, is trying his luck for the second time. He is facing B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan, a two-time JD-S legislator, in the newly constituted Bangalore Central constituency.

In Uttara Kannada, veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva faces Anant Kumar Hegde of the BJP, a three-time winner of the seat.

In Bellary, septugenarian Congress candidate N.Y. Hanumanthappa is pitted against J. Shanta of the BJP, a political novice and younger sister of state Health Minister B. Sriramalu.