Mangaluru: Polling for the high-stakes Karnataka assembly elections got underway this morning under a thick security blanket. Police have made elaborate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of polls that will go on till 6 pm. Counting of votes will take place on May 15. The Congress is fighting to retain Karnataka, one of the last major states where it is in power. The BJP, which is on an expansionist mode having won 22 states on its own or through allies, is desperate to win Karnataka. For the JD(S), which has positioned itself as a regional party, this election is a litmus test for its very survival as it has been out of power for a decade now.
Total voters comprise 2.56 crore men, 2.50 crore women and 5,055 transgenders. Voting will take place in 58,008 polling stations, with 1.40 lakh security personnel deployed to ensure law and order. Director General and Inspector General of Police Neelmani N Raju said elaborate security arrangements have been made for conducting free and fair elections in the state. In a first, women personnel will manage 600 polling stations called Sakhi (pink booths). Also, 28 ethnic polling stations have been set up in places where the tribal population is high. Kodagu has the highest tribal population of 3,350. It is a general holiday on Saturday for public offices.
Employees, both permanent and contractual, working in commercial and industrial establishments will be eligible to avail leave to cast their vote. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has launched a mobile app called Chunavana, which will help voters locate their polling stations and also know real-time data on the queue. Elections are being held for 222 out of the 224 Assembly constituencies. Polling in the Jayanagar constituency has been put off following the death of incumbent legislator and BJP candidate B N Vijay Kumar. Polling in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency will be held on May 28, following the seizure of 9,000 voter cards.
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