Polling began this morning for the Assembly polls in Karnataka in which the Congress has pulled out all the stops to return to power in a complex battle after more than an eight year long gap.
Long queues were seen outside polling booths in Bangalore early in the day. In many areas, voters turned up at polling stations even before the booths were opened at 7 am. Party workers, who had set up kiosks, a small distance from the booths, were wooing voters.
But, a few polling booths also witnessed a delayed start to the polling process. In a polling station (No. 92) of the Govindarajanagar assembly constituency in Bangalore, the voting process was delayed by 45 minutes on account of non-functioning of electronic voting machine (EVM).
In many booths across Bangalore, the officials had not notified the extension in polling time from to 6 pm. Though the Election Commission on Saturday extended the time till 6 pm, timing displayed outside polling booths said voting hours were between 7 am and 5 pm.
Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, Union ministers M Mallikarjuna Kharge and M Veerappa Moily, leader of opposition Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress committee president G Parameshwara, BJP state unit president Prahlad Joshi, and Karnataka Janatha Paksha supremo B S Yeddyurappa were among those who voted in the initial hours.
Over 2.5 lakh people are on poll duty. Police personnel deployed on the ground are more than 1.35 lakh, with authorities keep a special vigil in hypersensitive booths with the help of cameras. There are a total of 2940 candidates in the fray.