Voting began in Karnataka to elect the next state assembly on Sunday morning.
As many as 1.35 lakh police personnel, 60,000 from the state, 20,000 home guards and rest from central paramilitary and neighbouring states, have been deployed for the single phase poll in which more than 4.36 crore people will exercise their franchise.
Polling commenced at 7 a.m. would continue till 6 p.m. The timing for the casting of votes has been extended by an hour in 223 Assembly segments of the total 224.
Elections in Periyapatna has been postponed till May 28 following the death of BJP candidate.
The ruling BJP, the Congress and the regional Janata Dal-Secular, which is led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, and the Karnataka Janata Party led by former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa are the key players in the elections.
Some poll surveys have predicted anti-incumbency swing against the BJP, which would propel the Congress to be within the striking distance of acquiring power in the state. The Janata Dal-Secular is hoping to break new ground beyond its stronghold in the old Mysore region, while the Karnataka Janata Party is aiming to play spoilsport to the BJP's chances.
The fate of nearly 3,000 candidates is expected to be decided on Sunday. Prominent among them are Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Congress leader Siddaramiah, Yeddyurappa, KPCC president G. Parameshwara, Deputy Chief Minsiters K.S. Eswarappa and R. Ashoka.
Electoral authorities have set up about 52,000 booths, out of which about 10,000 have been identified as hypersensitive and over 14,000 as sensitive. As many as 65,000 electronic voting machines, which include about 10 per cent kept as reserve, are being used in the elections for which more than 2.5 lakh polling officers are on duty.
In the 2008 elections, BJP secured 110 seats, three short of majority and formed the government with the help of five independents who were made ministers. Congress bagged 80 seats and JD-S 28. The overall voter turnout then was 64.91 per cent.
The Election Commission and a number of NGOs have joined hands for vigorous campaigns to boost the voter turnout, particularly in Bangalore, the state capital. (ANI)