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Elections 2021

Karnataka: Voting underway for local body elections

IANS | December 22, 2020 01:49 PM

BENGALURU: Amid fears of a second wave of Covid-19, polling was underway on Tuesday in the first phase of the two-phased Karnataka local body elections in 2, 930 gram panchayats.

More than 50 per cent of villages in the state will exercise their franchise in 23, 706 booths in this phase. Voting began at 7 a.m. and will end at 5 p.m.

Voters who tested positive or have come in contact with Covid-19 positive cases, will be allowed to vote in the last hour of polling.

A total of 1.17 lakh candidates will be contesting for 43, 238 seats, and a total of 4, 377 candidates have been elected unopposed already, the State Election Commission said in its statement.

Around two lakh people in Bengaluru Urban district will cast their vote in the gram panchayat (GP) elections that will be held in 11 GPs in Bengaluru North and 15 in Yelahanka taluk.

Bengaluru North has about 98, 422 voters and there are 538 contenders in the fray for 233 seats. Yelahanka has nearly 1.2 lakh voters and there are 719 contenders for 298 seats.

Even though Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa-led BJP state government wanted to defer the polls due to the pandemic, the Karnataka High Court directed the state election commission to conduct the polls.

Owing to the pandemic, the state election commission made the wearing of masks and maintaining social distance mandatory during voting.

Hand sanitisers would also be made available in polling booths. The number of voters in each booth has been reduced from 1, 500 to 1, 000.

Karnataka state election commissioner B. Basavaraju said that electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in Bidar district on a pilot basis and ballot papers will be used in the rest of the state.

Karnataka has a total of 6, 004 gram panchayats out of which polls are being conducted in 5, 762 gram panchayats.

The polls will witness a triangular contest among the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal (Secular).

The second phase of polling will be held on December 27 to 2, 832 panchayats. The votes will be counted on December 30.

Karnataka police have deployed 80, 000 police personnel of various ranks for election duty.

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