Bangalore, April 16 (IANS) Karnataka will Thursday vote to elect its representatives from all the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.
Polling will be held in a single phase in 54,261 booths from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"In all, 2,74,891 personnel have been deployed, with 28 general observers and 44 observers for expenditure, police and awareness," state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Anil Kumar Jha told IANS.
A total of 4,62,11,844 electors will decide the fate of 434 candidates, including 195 Independents and 21 women, in the 28 constituencies. Five seats are reserved for Dalits (SCs) and two for tribals (STs).
"In view of the increase in electorate size, with over 1.5 million first-time voters and more youth enrolling, we are using more electronic voting machines (EVMs) this time - 75,353 ballot units and 54,261 controlling units," Jha said.
With more than 16 candidates each contesting in 11 constituencies, two ballot units will be used in their booths.
Bangalore North constituency has the largest electorate - 2.39 million voters, while Udupi-Chickmagalur in the coastal region has the smallest number - 1.39 million.
Bangalore Central has the maximum number of candidates (25) in the fray while the Gulbarga reserved constituency has the minimum of only five contestants.
In the high-profile Bangalore South constituency, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trial (VVPAT) system will be used in polling booths for the first time to ensure transparency. Voters will be able to see to which candidate they have cast the ballot as a slip pops up after pressing the button.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order, prevent untoward incidents and facilitate peaceful polling.
"About 85,000 personnel, including 20,000 home guards, 104 platoons of paramilitary forces, 40 companies of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KDRP) and 1,000 civil defence wardens have been deployed across the state, as the poll panel has identified 8,658 very sensitive and 14,440 sensitive booths," Additional Director General of Police M.N. Reddy told IANS.
In the three high-profile Bangalore consituencies of South, North and Central, 12,236 personnel have been deployed as 50 percent of the 6,823 polling booths have been declared sensitive and hyper-sensitive.
"We have stationed additional personnel in 2,044 sensitive and 1,361 hyper-sensitive booths across the city. About 400 mobile squads will monitor polling activities in the city," Bangalore Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said.
The city of nine-million population has around 6.3 million voters.
"We have directed all establishments, including shops, factories, companies and private offices to declare a paid holiday Thursday to enable their employees and workers to vote," CEO Jha said.