Except for a few stray hiccups, most of polling day in Karnataka went reasonably well, with an approximate voter turnout of a record 72.67 percent — excluding postal and home voting.
Even before 7 am, when the polls were set to open, many voters — including first-time voters and senior citizens — flocked to the polling stations in Chamarajpet, Rajajinagar, BEML Layout, and other localities in Bengaluru.
South First visited more than a dozen polling booths in Bengaluru’s 28 constituencies and at most of the polling stations, there was a reasonable turnout of voters.
Voices on the ground
Medical student Namita (20), who was a first-time voter, had come along with her parents to exercise her franchise at the Ram Mandir polling station in Chamarajpet.
“I had an overall good experience while casting my vote for the very first time. I voted for the party that carried out development work in our constituency,” an excited Namita told South First.
Homemaker Lalitha, a resident of Basaveshwaranagara, told South First, “I cast my vote for the party or the candidate that has done good work — from developing quality roads to ensuring proper drinking water supply to building high-tech government schools to providing old-age pension. I have voted for development.”
Turnout through the day
Chamarajanagar recorded the highest voter turnout, with 80.81 percent.
Bagalkot, Bengaluru Rural, Chikkaballapur, Shivamogga, Udupi, Tumakuru, Ramanagar, Mandya, Koppal, Kodagu, Haveri, Hassan, Chitradurda, Davanagere, Gadag, and Vijayanagar are the districts that reported a voter turnout between 70 to 80 percent.
On the other hand, Yadgir, Uttar Kannada, Raichur, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad, Dakshina Kannada, Vijayapura, Bellary, and Bidar recorded a voter turnout between 60 to 70 percent. Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru South, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru Central recorded a voter turnout 50 to 60 percent.
Technical glitches halt voting
In many districts, including in Belagavi and Gadag, voting was halted for about an hour in many polling stations due to technical glitches reported in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
In at least nine polling stations, including in Kittur, Athani, Arabhavi, and Mudalagi town, the polling was stopped for at least two hours due to technical glitches in the EVMs.
Even in Gadag, in over 20 polling stations, voting was halted for at least 30 minutes due to EVM malfunctions. “There were issues with the EVMs in around 20 polling stations across Gadag. We immediately replaced them with the reserve EVMs,” Gadag DC Vyshali ML admitted to South First.
Voters curse election officials
At the Mico Layout constituency, it was a serpentine crowd at the Lawrence School in Koramangala 8th block and there was no shade to stand under while waiting in line. Nitu, a voter, told South First that everyone, including the officials, are tired and that the polling process was going on slowly.
An elderly voter, who was standing in the queue — the longest line — towards booth number 83, said that there was no movement of the line, while booth number 80 did not have a single voter and was empty.
However, it must be said that senior citizens and the physically challenged were managed reasonably well by the security personnel and the police.
As the mercury levels rose in the afternoon, many polling stations across Bengaluru City, Vijayapura, Raichur, Yadgir, and Koppal wore a deserted look as hardly anyone turned up to vote.
Octogenarian Muktumbi Doddamani, a resident of Mundargi town, staged a protest for over two hours against a polling booth official. “An official, who was helping me cast my vote inside the polling station, voted for a symbol against my suggestion,” complained Muktumbi.
Gadag Deputy Commissioner Vyshali ML told South First, “The polling booth officials have inquired about the incident and it appears to be a false allegation. She had other motives. We have taken a written letter from her that no such incident occurred in the polling station.”
‘Nationalists will vote for BJP’
Congress, BJP, and JD(S) leaders expressed confidence of winning the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls with full majority after exercising their franchise.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters in Haveri on Wednesday, “If the voter turnout is more, then it will benefit the BJP. More voters from urban areas have cast their votes. It is a positive sign for the BJP.”
“Exit poll reports won’t be accurate, there will be a plus or minus of five seats. These reports are not the final results. As per our report, the party will get an absolute majority in this election,” Bommai exuded confidence and rubbished that the party is in talks with the JD(S).
Stating that the ruling party will get full majority, BJP leader KS Eshwarappa told reporters, “People from all the sects are supporting the BJP in this election. The party would win the elections with a clear majority by winning in at least 140 seats.”
“Hindus are unhappy with the Congress for raking up the Bajrang Dal. Even nationalist Hindus, Muslims, and Christians have voted for the BJP. Congress and JD(S) made an effort to appease Muslims, but nationalist Muslims are with the BJP. We will win comfortably,” reiterated Eshwarappa and also exuded confidence that BJP will win with over 60,000 majority in Shivamogga.
‘Congress will come to power independently’
Congress Legislative Party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru, “BJP is planning to win the elections through money power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally won’t affect the party prospects. In his rallies, he never spoke about price rise, inflation, and corruption.”
“Congress will get over 130 seats in this election and it might go up to 150 seats. We believe that the people will vote for Congress, looking at the development work our government carried out in its regime (2013 to 2018). We will come to power independently,” Siddaramaiah said and added that there is an anti-incumbency for BJP in Karnataka.
“I have 200 percent confidence that the Congress will win with an absolute majority by winning in 141 seats,” KPCC president DK Shivakumar said, confident that Congress would come to power in Karnataka.
He further said, “The party will come to power on its own. There is no question of forming an alliance with JD(S) or any other party.”
JD(S) will lose seats: Kumaraswamy
Stating that the party won’t get the expected numbers, JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy told reporters in Ramanagar, “I have fielded winnable candidates in most of the Assembly seats. In this election, the party might lose in around 25 seats, where I thought the party would win, due to poor party funds.”
He explained, “The party did not get the funds it was expecting. I could not provide party funds to many candidates due to the deficit. This hampered the party campaign. I believe that the party will get good numbers in this election.”