fortnight-long hectic campaign for the May 5Karnataka legislative
assembly elections ended Friday, with mainstream and regional
political parties switching over to door-to-door canvassing to woo
the voters over the next 24 hours.
"Elaborate arrangements have been made to conduct free and fair
elections Sunday in 223 assembly constituencies across the state
through 6,200 pollings booths, involving about 100,000 officials
and over 135,000 security personnel drawn from central and state
police forces," state Chief Electoral Officer A.K. Jha told
reporters here Friday.
Though the assembly has 225 seats, including one nominated member
from the Ango-Indian community, polling is being held only in 223
constituencies. The poll in the Periyapatna assembly segment in
Mysore district has been countermanded following the death of
Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Sannamoge Gowda April 29. It has
been rescheduled to May 28.
"We have warned all the political parties, including their
candidates and cadres, of stringent action if they are found
influencing the electorate through inducements, money, liquor and
gifts to vote in a particular way. Even voters will be punished
with one-year jail sentence if caught receiving bribe to vote in
favour of a specific candidate or indulging in proxy vote," Jha
As a precautionary measure, the Election Commission has banned
sale of liquor for 48 hours from Friday 5 p.m. to Sunday 5 p.m.
across the state, when polling is slated to end.
"We have also seized about Rs.15 crore of unaccounted cash
(cumulative) and 67,000 litres of illegal liquor valued at Rs.4.97
crore at various checkpoints across the state during the last
fortnight. In all, 2,203 cases have booked and 633 first
information reports (FIRs) filed against offenders violating the
Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during electioneering," Jha said.
The state police and excise departments have set up 170
inter-state border check-posts, 130 liquor surveillance squads and
170 intra-state check-points to prevent illegal transport of
liquor, cash or other materials and their distribution to induce
Central police forces are being deployed in the Maoist-affected
areas in central and coastal districts of the state to ensure the
electorate will be able come out and vote without fear.
"We have identified 9,954 hyper sensitive, 14,209 sensitive and
149 Maoist-prone polling booths across the state for extra
protection. As a precautionary measure, 85,338 licensed guns have
been deposited with police stations. All check-posts and flying
squads have been put on alert to prevent appeasement of voters,"
state's Additional Director General of Police Bipin Gopalakrishna
Physically challenged and visually impaired voters will be given
preference to cast their ballot first, as the voting process will
begin at 7 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m.
"We have made arrangements to distribute voters slips with
photograph to the electorate in all the constituencies to ensure
maximum participation this time so as to improve the polling
percentage," Jha added.