Bengaluru: Voting is underway in 14 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, where the contest is mainly between the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and the BJP, in the second phase of parliamentary polls.
Prominent contestants in this phase include former prime minister HD Deve Gowda (Tumkur), his grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy from Hassan and Mandya respectively, as also Union minister Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), and senior Congress leaders Veerappa Moily (Chikkaballapura) and K H Muniyappa (Kolar).
As the polling began, people stood patiently in queues at 30,164 polling stations, most of them in the southern part of the state, covering almost the entire old Mysuru region and a few coastal districts. Many voters arrived early to avoid the summer heat.
A total of 2,67,51,893 voters are expected to vote to elect their representative in parliament from among 241 candidates in the fray during this phase.
The rest 14 seats in the state are to go to polls in the third phase on April 23.
Among the 241 candidates, 224 are men and 17 women. While the highest number of 31 candidates are from Bangalore North, the least is in Hassan with six candidates.
Out of total 2,67,51,893 voters in the 14 constituencies, 1,35,45,818 are men, 1,32,03,258 women and 2,817 'others'.
A total of 36,196 control units, 52,112 ballot units and 37,705 VVPAT machines are being used for the polls in 14 constituencies, where a total of 2,11,405 polling personnel- including 1,54,262 poll officials, 38,597 police personnel, 7,727 transport personnel and 10,819 other personnel will be on duty.
Police have made elaborate security arrangement to avoid any untoward incident.
It is a high stakes battle for the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance that is grappling with dissidence among grassroots-level workers over seat-sharing, as any adverse results from the region, considered as their stronghold, is likely to have its impact on the longevity of the coalition government in the state.
The BJP is determined to improve its tally compared to last time.
Other candidates in this phase include multi-lingual actors and independent candidates Sumalatha Ambareesh (Mandya) and Prakash Raj (Bangalore North), and BJP's Tejasvi Surya (Bangalore South), who is pitted against veteran Congressman B K Hariprasad.
Key constituencies to be watched out for include Mandya, that saw a bitter campaign, where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil from JD(S) is pitted against independent candidate Sumalatha, widow of actor-turned politician M H Ambareesh.
Lack of support from local Congress workers is worrying the regional party here. Spotlight is also on Tumkur where JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is contesting for the first time after vacating his Hassan seat to another grandson Prajwal Revanna, along with Bangalore South where in a surprise move BJP gave ticket to 28 year-old Surya, denying ticket to Union minister Ananth Kumar's widow Tejaswini, causing some resentment.
Of the 14 constituencies going to the polls, BJP and Congress had won six each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and JD(S) in two.
While the BJP is contesting in 13 constituencies and supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya, Congress and JD(S) have fielded their candidates in 10 and four constituencies respectively. The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in northern districts, will go to polls in the second phase on April 23.