Bangalore, May 22: Polling for the third and final phase of Karnataka Assembly polls began today amidst tight security. Polling is being held in sixty-nine segments spread across eight districts of Northern Karnataka, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Bagalakot and Belgaum.
At least 10.18 million voters are expected to decide the fate of 699 candidates, including forty-three women. Some of the prominent candidates who are in the fray are former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, KPCC President and former Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, former leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council H K Patil, former Ministers Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli, Jagdish Shettar, C M Udasi and Govind Karjol.
The eight districts have 12,389 polling stations, of which 4,358 have been identified as 'hyper-sensitive' and 4,038 as 'sensitive'. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to avoid any kind of untoward incident. Around 56,000 security personnel, including 225 companies of para- military forces has been deployed to maintain law and order situation.
Hundreds of micro-observers and central observers have been deployed to check bogus voting and other malpractices. According to sources, special precautions have been taken in communally-sensitive district Hubli and in Belgaum. The first phase of polling was held in 89 constituencies on May 10 and in 66 segments in the second phase on May 16.
Counting of votes will take place on May 25.