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Karnataka poll: All about Phase 1
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | May 09, 2008 16:45 IST
The much hyped Karnataka election will get underway on May 10 with 1,72,88,358 people voting to decide the fate of 950 candidates contesting the polls from 89 constituencies.
Polling in the first phase will take place in Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts, Tumkur, Mysore, Chikkaballapur, Ramnagar, Mandya, Hassan, Kodagu, Chamarajnagar and Kolar.
Polling in the 20,000 booths for the first phase will commence at 7 am and would end by 5 pm.
For the first time the Election Commission of India has appointed micro observers in the polling stations. The micro observers will comprise Central government officials from various departments from outside the state of Karnataka.
The micro observers will be stationed at places where there is no video facility and their job would be to ensure that the polls are free and fair. Apart from there would be 50,000 other officials who would be on polls duty.
Security too has been tightened across the state to ensure that there is no untoward incident during the elections. Civil and armed police personnel including para military forces and CRPF staff numbering 1.5 lakh have been posted in all parts where polling would take place tomorrow.
Over 1.5 lakh civil and armed police personnel including paramilitary forces and Central Reserve Police Force would be deployed to ensure free and fair elections. State Police Chief Shreekumar said at a press conference that they have identified 6,252 polling booths are hypersensitive while 3,500 have been classified as sensitive.
Crucial phase: It will be a make or break situation for political parties, especially the Janata Dal-Secular, which is banking heavily on the results of the first phase.
The first phase is dominated by the Vokkaliga community, which is the primary vote bank for the JD-S. The Congress meanwhile will pin its hopes in the urban areas of Bengaluru and Mysore and the return of S M Krishna to state politics was just an indication as to how much the Congress was banking on his 'hi-flying' urban image.
Moreover, the number of constituencies in Bengaluru have increased from 16 to 28 following the delimitation process.
In the first phase of the elections, the most high profile among the constitiuncies is Ramnagar where former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy will be seeking a re-election.
He is pitched against Congress candidate Mamatha Nichani who incidentally is the daughter of former chief minister Ramkrishna Hegde.
His brother H D Revanna too will be battling it out in the first phase against G Anupama of the Congress at Holenarsipur in Hassan.
The fielding of women candidates against the two brothers had generated a lot of interest as rumour has it that the Gowda clan is superstitious of fighting women in the elections especially after H D Deve Gowda lost the battle to Tejaswini [Images] of the Congress from the Kanakapur constituency in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
The other big names in the fray in the first phase are Congres leader Siddaramaiah from Varuna and Union Minister of State and cine star Ambareesh from the Srirangapatana constituency.
Run up and issues
The run up to the first phase has been pretty mediocre. Parties had to canvass under several restrictions from the Election Commission of India. A ban on banners and buntings at public places did not give the feel that the state was in election mode.
The Congress relied on the likes of Sonia Gandhi [Images], Y S Rajashekhar Reddy and S M Krishna for their campaign while the Bharatiya Janata Party had Lal Kishenchand Advani and Narendra Modi [Images] as their star campaigners.
The JD-S relied solely upon H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy.
For the Congress during its campaign, the prime focus was stability. At every campaign, the Congress spoke about the instability in Karnataka thanks to the BJP-JD(S) combine. The party also spoke about a separate agenda for Bengaluru and the rest of the state.
Mallikarujana Kharge told rediff.com that the key areas of their campaign focused on development and stability. We have a separate plan for Benagaluru and the rest of the state, he also said.
BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa says that his party has assured the voter of development and a less congested Bengaluru. The BJP's key focus during the campaign has been development, a hard terror policy and also the betrayal by the JD-S.
The JD-S on the other hand which has been giving an impression all these years that it is a pro-farmer party too has released a separate manifesto for Benagaluru and the rest of the state.
H D Kumaraswamy said that during their campaign their prime focus has been development and they did not concentrate on taking other parties head on.
Apart from addressing the various issues, parties had a tough time campaigning in constituencies that have been formed following the delimitation process.
Candidates had a tough time canvassing with the new voter and most of them relied on door to door campaigns in order to familiarise themselves with the voter. Even senior leaders and well known faces in the parties were roped in to canvass more at new constituencies.
On average since the year 1983 the voter turn out for the elections in Karnataka has been 65 per cent.
However, political parties feel that the turnout for the polls this year could be a shade less as many of their candidates were not able to reach out to all the voters.
This was largely due to the restrictions imposed on them which in turn led to a low profile campaign.
Parties say that in the previous elections they had hired vehicles in which loud speakers were put up to announce the date of elections. However, this year this exercise too was minimal as the EC had restricted the use of more than six vehicles thus making it virtually impossible to make such announcements.
Parties say that they expect a voter turn out of anything between 50 and 55 per cent.
First phase facts
Poll date: May 10
Poll timing: 7 am to 5 pm
Total Constituencies: 89
Number of candidates: 950
Number of women candidates: 17
Number of voter: 1,72,88,358
Male voters: 88,73,734
Women voters: 84,14,624