Bengaluru, Aug 22 (IANS) Peaceful polling was underway here on Saturday amid tight security for the Bengaluru civic corporation election, an official said.
“Though polling began at 7 a.m. and was dull earlier, it picked up momentum post-noon and 23-25 percent voting was registered till 2 p.m. in 197 civic wards across the city,” a state election commission official told IANS here.
The day-long election till 5 p.m. is being held for 197 of the 198 wards, as the BJP’s Bharati Ramachandra, 45, was declared elected from the Hongasandra ward (number 189) after the nomination papers of Congress candidate K. Maheshwari were rejected on August 13 for submitting a false caste certificate.
The century-old Bruhat Bengaluru Mahangara Palike (BBMP) was expanded in 2007 by including seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council and 111 surrounding villages to increase civic wards to 198 from 100.
Delimitation of the wards on the basis of the 2011 population census with 50 percent of them reserved for women have forced political parties to field wives or relatives of former corporators as contestants in many wards.
“Nearly 7.4-million (74-lakh) electorate is registered in the city to elect their corporators from 197 wards,” state poll panel chief P.N. Srinivasachary said.
With 1,500 voters earmarked for each polling station, 9,310 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and 11,635 ballot units are being used.
With the poll panel and the civic corporation exhorting voters to cast their ballot, civic and poll officials are hoping for at least 44 percent voting by evening as recorded in the previous (2010) civic elections.
The state government declared a public holiday to enable the electorate to vote, while police banned liquor sale till Saturday night across the city.
Re-polling, if any, will be on Monday and counting on August 25.
In all, 1,120 candidates, including 197, 198 and 187 from the BJP, the ruling Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) respectively, a dozen from regional outfits like Vatala Chaluvali Paksha, AIADMK and Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and 399 Independents, including many as rebels are in the fray.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful polling, maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident across the city.
“About 20,000 policemen have been deployed in and around the 197 civic wards, with additional forces in 700 hyper sensitive and 1,990 sensitive booths,” city police commissioner N.S. Megharik said.
In the previous five-year term (2010-2015), the BJP ruled the BBMP for the first time by winning in 116 wards, as against 62 wards by the Congress, 14 by JD-S and eight by Independents.
On the Supreme Court’s directive, the revised polling date (August 22) was fixed on July 16 and the BBMP commissioner notified the election schedule on August 3, with the last date for filing nominations on August 10, scrutiny on August 11 and the last date for withdrawal on August 13.