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LS polls: Over 70 pc turnout in Karnataka

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NewsDrum Desk
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Bengaluru, May 7 (PTI) Voting was held on Tuesday in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka and a turnout with over 70 per cent was recorded, as the Congress and the BJP locked horns again on the electoral battleground in less than a fortnight.

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Poll officials said that as per figures available till 10.53 pm, an estimated 70.03 per cent of voters cast their ballots.

"This is tentative. It will vary slightly based on the detailed reports of the PRO (presiding officer)," an official said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the same 14 segments had recorded a turnout of 68.43 per cent.

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The state has a total of 28 Lok Sabha constituencies. Polling in the other 14 seats was held on April 26, in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

The constituencies which went to polls earlier, including those in state capital Bengaluru, witnessed a turnout of 69.56 per cent.

"No violence was reported. The second phase of Lok Sabha polls in the state was peaceful," Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Manoj Kumar Meena told PTI.

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Of the 14 segments that went to polls on Tuesday, the highest turnout of 76.47 per cent was recorded in Chikkodi, followed by 76.23 per cent in Davangere. The lowest turnout of 61.81 per cent was recorded in Raichur.

A total of 227 candidates -- 206 men and 21 women -- were in the fray for this phase which covered mostly the state's northern districts. There were more than 2.59 crore eligible voters and 28,269 polling stations.

Tuesday's elections witnessed a straight fight between the ruling Congress and the BJP in these segments. The JD(S) is not contesting in these seats and is supporting its NDA alliance partner -- the BJP.

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The segments in northern districts where elections were held are Chikkodi, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal, Bellary, Haveri, Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Davangere and Shimoga.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had swept all these 14 seats, defeating the Congress and the JD(S), which were in alliance and ruling the state back then.

Having scored a thumping victory in the Assembly elections, the Congress appeared determined to put up a strong show in the Lok Sabha polls, while Karnataka is the most important state for the BJP in south India as it is only here that it had held power in the past.

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Davangere saw the highest number of 30 candidates in the fray, followed by 23 in Shimoga while Raichur had the lowest at eight contestants.

Former chief ministers Basavaraj Bommai (Haveri) and Jagadish Shettar (Balgaum), Union ministers Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad) and Bhagwanth Khuba (Bidar) -- all from BJP; Congress' Geetha Shivrajkumar (Shimoga) -- wife of actor Shivrajkumar and daughter of former CM S Bangarappa, and AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge's son-in-law Radhakrishna Doddamani (Gulbarga), were among the prominent names in the fray.

Also in the contest were MP and veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa's son B Y Raghavendra, party's suspended leader and former Deputy CM K S Eshwarappa -- both from Shimoga, former speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and ex-minister B Sreeramulu of BJP from Uttara Kannada and Bellary respectively and retired IAS officer G Kumar Naik of Congress from Raichur among others.

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Stakes are high for several ministers in this phase with their children in fray.

Sons of Ministers Laxmi Hebbalkar and Eshwar Khandre - Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar and Sagar Khandre - contested from Belgaum and Bidar respectively, while daughters of Ministers Satish Jarkiholi and Shivanand Patil - Priyanka Jarkiholi and Samyukta Patil- are in contention in Chikkodi and Bagalkot respectively.

Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Minister S S Mallikarjun and daughter-in-law of veteran Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, is in the fray from Davangere.

Veteran BJP leader and former chief minister B S Yediyurappa was among the early voters on Tuesday, accompanied by his sons -- B Y Raghavendra, BJP candidate from Shimoga Lok Sabha segment, and B Y Vijayendra, the party's state president.

"Out of 28 Lok Sabha seats, according to me we (BJP) are going to win at least 25 to 26 seats. The atmosphere is very good. Wherever we go people say Modi, Modi, it is going to have its own effect," Yediyurappa said after voting.

The Lok Sabha poll results will have its impact on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister S K Shivakumar, Vijayendra said. "Congress is under the illusion of winning more than 20 seats based on their guarantees. They will face a shock on the day of counting on June 4. People have more trust in Modi's permanent guarantees than in Congress' temporary guarantees," he added.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge cast his vote in Kalaburagi, accompanied by his wife Radhabai Kharge.

The Congress will win in Karnataka with a thumping majority and there is no doubt about it, he said, adding, "Things are good, good reports are coming from everywhere. Alliance partners (INDI Alliance) are getting strength in this third phase (nationally). Definitely in this phase too we will get good support from the people." Meanwhile, the Shorapur Assembly segment in Yadgir district which went for bypoll recorded 66.72 per cent voter turnout.

The bypoll is necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA Raja Venkatappa Naik last month. PTI KSU AMP RS IJT

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