An estimated 65 per cent of the 4.62 crore electorate in Karnataka cast their votes today for 28 Lok Sabha seats in the single-phase polls that saw a fierce fight between Congress and BJP.
"An estimated 65 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the polls held in 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state," Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told reporters here tonight.
Elections held under the vigil of some 85,000 security personnel, including the central forces, by and large passed off peacefully with no major untoward incident, he said.
Voting ranged from moderate to brisk in the initial hours but gathered pace reaching 47 per cent at 3 PM and 60 per cent by 5 PM.
Polling in the three constituencies of Bangalore - South, Central and North - recorded an estimated voters turnout of 55, 55 and 52 per cent, respectively, Jha said.
The fate of 435 candidates was decided today with BJP expecting an upswing in its fortunes after the bitter defeat in the 2013 assembly polls when it yielded power to Congress.
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the final voting percentage was 58.81. The then ruling party BJP had won 19 seats, Congress six and JD-S three.
Among the key contestants are Nandan Nilekani, Infosys co-founder, who is locked in a close fight with five-time MP BJP's Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South. Former Prime Minister and JD-S chief H D Deve Gowda (Hassan) and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur) are other prominent contestants.
Besides Gowda and Moily, four other former Chief Ministers BJP's B S Yeddyurappa (Shimoga) and D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), JD-S' H D Kumaraswamy (Chikkaballapur) and Congress' N Dharam Singh (Bidar) are also in the field.
Congress as well as BJP are targetting winning about 20 seats. BJP is expecting that the return of Yeddyurappa would bring significant gains and shift his vote base to it, as he had secured 10 per cent vote share in 2013 assembly polls, playing spoilsport to the party's hopes of retaining power. Former Prime Minister and JDS chief Deve Gowda (Hassan) and Union Minister M Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapur) are other prominent contestants.
Four other former CMs -- BJP's B S Yeddyurappa (Shimoga) and D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), JDS' H D Kumaraswamy (Chikkaballapur) and Congress' N Dharam Singh (Bidar) -- are also in the field.
The electoral exercise was spread across 54,294 polling booths, of which 11,424 were declared hypersensitive and 14,968 sensitive.
Jha said there could be repolling in two talukas of Bangalore and Stingeri, not because of any irregularities but problems in handling EVMs. "We will examine the issue and take a decision on repolling in these two cases," he said.
Instances of group clashes were reported in Ramnagar and Anekal talukas, Jha said, adding those involved were arrested.
He also said two election officers were shifted after they were found to have changed the direction of EVMs in Kolar and Tumkur towns.
Instances of voters boycotting the polls were reported in Turuvekere, Aurad, Bhalki, Chamrajnagar, Karwar and Sirsi talukas, mostly for lack of basic facilities, Jha said.
Dakshin Kannada registered the highest estimated voter turnout of 75 per cent and the least 51 per cent was recorded in Gulbarga, Jha said.
The Election Commission introduced Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system on an experimental basis in Bangalore South, one of the seven constituencies in the country to be chosen for it.
VVPAT is a printer with drop box. It prints and displays a slip in seven seconds after a vote is cast so that a citizen can also confirm who they cast their vote for. The slip will then get automatically dropped into the drop box next to the Electronic Voting Machine and can't be retrieved.
Congress and BJP have set their sights on winning about 20 seats.
BJP expects the return of Yeddyurappa to bring significant gains and shift his vote base to it as he secured 10 per cent vote share in the 2013 Assembly polls, playing spoilsport to the party's hopes of retaining power.
The party is also heavily banking on the Modi factor to tilt the scales in its favour, particularly among young voters. Investing much in Karnataka, Modi has held 15 rallies.
Congress' offensive was spearheaded by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who addressed more than 75 rallies. A less than impressive show would weaken his position within his party, a reason why he has played for high stakes.
JDS has contested 24 seats but in 22 it is a direct face-off beween Congress and BJP while in the rest, it is a tripolar contest.