Public campaigning for Thursday’s Lok Sabha elections came to an end across the state at 6 pm on Tuesday.
For the next 48 hours, there will be no public meetings and processions. But there is no ban on door-to-door campaigns by groups of three or four.
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to ensure free and fair polling as over four crore voters get ready to decide the fate of 434 candidates in 28 constituencies.
Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said there will be a ban on sale and distribution of liquor from 6 pm on Tuesday to 6 pm on Thursday.
Jha said television channels will be free to conduct panel discussions on the polls, but appealed to the electronic media to not air programmes that could influence voters.
On Thursday, around 85,000 security personnel will be deployed at 54,294 polling booths across the state. The state police have identified 8,658 booths as ‘hypersensitive’.
According to ADGP (Law and Order) M N Reddi, 104 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) will be deployed. “The hypersensitive booths will be guarded by the CAPF on the day of polling,” he said.
One mobile party, consisting a sub-inspector or assistant sub-inspector, will cover 30 to 40 polling booths. They will be supervised by the DySP’s mobile squad.
ADGP Reddi said 40 companies of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP), 16,458 home guards and 1,200 Civil Defence Force personnel from Karnataka and 4,000 home guards from Andhra Pradesh will be used for election bandobast. “In Naxal-affected districts, special measures have been taken. The Anti-Naxal Force, CAPF and KSRP have been inducted for this purpose,” he said.
While many of the constituencies in the state are witnessing a straight battle between the Congress and the BJP, JD(S) hopes to put up a fight in at least some seats.Determined to exploit the anti-incumbency against the Congress-led UPA government, the BJP has unleashed a high-voltage campaign and is banking on the charisma of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who has addressed over 12 rallies in the state. The tech-savvy saffron party has been propagating the so-called ‘Modi wave’ by conducting ‘virtual Modi’ rallies using 3D holographic technology.
Faced with the challenge of winning at least 20 seats for his party, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has held over 90 public rallies across the 28 constituencies.
AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi too has made repeated visits to the state to neutralise the Modi effect. He has participated in a dozen roadshows, including one from Bangalore to Mysore, passing through Tumkur, Kunigal and Mandya. During her one-day tour, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi addressed two public meetings - one in Kolar and another in Mysore.
Apart from local leaders like KPCC president G Parameshwara, former chief minister S M Krishna and Housing Minister M H Ambareesh, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy too have sweated it out to woo voters.
JD(S) and its Miscalculations
JD(S) prospects have been hurt by its poor distribution of tickets, as the party initially looked to fence-sitters from other parties before choosing its nominees. Candidates for 16 constituencies were announced just two days before last date for filing nominations.Later, Uttara Kannada candidate Shivanand Naik caused the party severe embarrassment by withdrawing from the fray citing “financial constraints”. Its Belgaum candidate Naseer Bhagwan too withdrew, announcing support for the Congress. This caused H D Deve Gowda and family had to break their own promise and field one more member of the family - H D Kumaraswamy from Chikballapur. The party has not pitched a candidate in Dakshina Kannada, following an alliance with the Social Democratic Party of India. JD(S), which also has no candidate in Koppal, is fighting in only 24 of the total 28 constituencies.
A total of 1,559 cases of violation of poll code of conduct have been booked so far. Authorities seized `21.95 crore cash and 44,924 litres of liquor, worth `2.82 crore, Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said.Thousands KSRTC, BMTC, hospital and other essential services employees are worried about missing out on voting as their institutions haven’t declared a holiday on Thursday. KSRTC and BMTC staff have also submitted a memorandum in this regard.
Jha said it is not possible to declare a holiday for those working in essential services like KSRTC, BMTC, hospitals and power supply. But he asked the heads of such institutions to facilitate the employees to vote while on duty.
Indelible Ink on Thumb
The indelible ink, which is usually applied on the left index finger, would be applied on the left thumb in the areas where panchayat polls were held recently.