Karnataka polls: 30 percent voting in first phase till 1 p.m.

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Bangalore, May 10 : About 30 per cent of an estimated 17.3 million electorate had cast their votes by 1 p.m. in 89 assembly segments in Karnataka where the first phase of polling is underway under tight security cover on Saturday.

Minor incidents of violence were reported in Bangalore, while in the Varuna constituency, voting was suspended for sometime in the Hulimavu polling booth after BJP supporters complained that one of the election staff was canvassing for the Congress.

The official was immediately removed and voting continued after the electronic voting machine was changed.

In Chickpet constituency, police had to resort to a baton charge when members of some parties reacted violently.

The situation has been brought under control.

Even as voting progressed, several complaints regarding missing names poured in.

Voters at KR Puram, R T Nagar and Vijaynagar areas complained that their names were missing.

At R T Nagar, 20 persons were held after a complaint was lodged against them for allegedly being bogus voters. The police say it could be a complaint planted by the opposite party.

Over 100,000 security personnel are manning the 200,000 polling booths spread across 89 constituencies.

This is the first election to be held in the state after the delimitation process. Bangalore will be a crucial constituency during the election, as it accounts for 28 out of the 89 constituencies in the first phase of the elections.

Another first in this election is the new kind of marking on the finger of the voter.

The Election Commission has done away with the earlier procedure in which an ink blotch is applied on the index finger. A new pattern has been introduced where a long line will be drawn that would run from the top of the nail to the bottom through the skin on the index finger.

The first phase of the polls will be spread across 12 districts which are Tumkur, Chikkaballabur, Kolar, Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, BBMP, Hassan, Kodagu, Mysore, Mandya, Ramnagar and Chamrajnagar.

Earlier, the poll process started without any trouble and no untoward incident was reported.

Small queues were noticed in several constituencies in the morning with the voters preferring to cast their ballot before the weather turns hot.

In Bangalore city, young voters, especially those voting for the first time, showed enthusiasm in participating in the democratic exercise.

A total of 953 candidates are in fray in Saturday's poll. Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy cast his vote from Magadi constituency.

Former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah of Congress, contesting from Varuna, exercised his franchise at his native village Siddaramana Hundi. The first phase comprises 42 per cent of the total electorate of the state of Karnataka.

Former Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy and his brother H D Revanna are seeking re-election from Ramnagar and Holenarasipur constituencies respectively. Both are pitched against women candidates from the Congress.

The Janata Dal-Secular, which has banked more on the rural electorate, will desperately try to repeat its performance in 2004 when it won 38 out of the 89 seats in this belt, which has a majority population of Vokkaligas. JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda belongs to this community.

The Congress too has roped in Vokkaliga leader, S M Krishna to split the JD-S vote bank. The Congress had won 29 seats in this belt in 2004. The BJP, meanwhile, is banking on its urban image and will try to make inroads in Bangalore.

Poll pundits say the districts going to the polls in the first phase of the elections are Vokkaliga influenced.

ANI

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