Bangalore, May 16: Polling for the second phase of Karnataka Assembly polls began today amidst tight security. Polling is being held in sixty-six constituencies spread in ten districts of Raichur, Koppal, Uttara Kannada, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Shimoga, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada. At least 1.10 crore electorate are expected to decide the fate of 589 candidates, including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa.
Elaborate arrangements have been made by electoral authorities for smooth polling at 12,271 polling stations in 66 segments, which is spread across ten districts, where over 56,000 security personnel would keep a close watch. Police has issued shoot-at-sight orders to deal with outlaws disrupting the poll process.
Around 16,000 paramilitary force personnel, including 500-strong anti-naxal force, have been deployed in these parts. The Election Commission has been continuing its efforts to ensure a free and fair election in Bellary. The Commission has deputed senior Indian Administrative Service officer Raymond Peter as special observer, who successfully checked malpractices in the 2006 by-election to Chamundeswari assembly constituency in Mysore.
It would be a litmus test for the Congress as the BJP has a strong hold in several pockets in ten districts. In 2004, the BJP garnered 37 seats followed by the Congress, 22 and the JDS, 14. The third and final phase of elections would be on May 22. Sixty six per cent voter turnout was registered in 89 of the total 224 assembly seats in the first phase of elections on May 10.