In what is being seen as a “semi-final” before assembly elections due in May, polls to urban local bodies in BJP-ruled Karnataka will be held tomorrow.
About 8.5 million people are eligible to cast their ballot in 208 urban local bodies (excluding Bangalore) — seven city corporations, 43 city municipal corporations, 65 town municipal councils and 93 town panchayats. The polls are sure to be a “litmus test” for the contending political outfits, with assembly polls just around the corner.
As many as 433 candidates in Mysore city are among the 21,974 contestants staking their claim to a seat to the urban local bodies (ULBs) in the civic polls across the state tomorrow.
Besides former mayors and corporators, among those who have contesting include a gynaecologist, daughter of Congress leader late T V Srinivasa Rao, ‘Snake’ Shyam, who has set a record in catching snakes and rehabilitating them, and a ‘churumuri’ hawker.
Elections are being held to 208 ULBs in the state, including seven municipal corporations. They comprise 4,967 wards, including 65 wards of the Mysore City Corporation.
In Mysore district, 762,671 voters will vote in 204 wards in five taluks where 1,071 candidates are in the fray. It includes 620,694 voters in Mysore City. Apart from MCC, elections are being conducted to four town municipal councils — Nanjangud (27 seats), Bannur (23), Hunsur (27) and K R Nagar (23) — and three town panchayats — T Narasipur (11), Periyapatna (15) and H D Kote (13 seats) in the district.
While the Congress has fielded candidates to all the 65 MCC wards, JD(S) will contest 64, BJP 63, Karnataka Janata Paksha 52, BSR Congress 46, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) 31, and CPM 1. There are 111 independents in the fray.
All 65 wards are witnessing multiple contestants, the highest being 14 in Ward 7 followed by 13 in Ward 51. Only two wards are witnessing triangular contest, Ward 32 and 34. For the first time, the newly-floated party of former Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa, KJP, has entered the fray, besides BSR Congress.
The district administration has geared up to its election machinery for conducting the polls in the district. It has set up 846 polling stations, including 686 polling booths in MCC. Of the city’s 686 polling stations, 262 have been identified as sensitive and 164 as super-sensitive, according to Deputy Commissioner Ramegowda.
Around 1,000 ballot units and 800 control units have been set up for conducting elections to the MCC, while 1,230 ballot units and 1,030 control units in the district.
He said, around 260 vehicles have been deployed to move election officials from mustering centres to polling booths. A total of 3,736 election officers have been appointed. For the 204 polling booths, 934 presiding officers, 934 first polling officers, 934 second polling officers and 934 third polling officers have been appointed.
The DC made it clear that it was mandatory for voters to produce their voter ID cards for casting votes. In its absence, a voter can produce any of the 21 other documents.
Elaborate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of the elections are made by drawing services of 2,500 police personnel, 12 KSRP platoons, 14 CAR platoons, three Commando groups and 500 Home Guards, according to Police Commissioner K L Sudhir.
The mustering process was conducted on Wednesday in different centres and electronic voting machines (EVMs) which will be used for the first time in ULB polls, were handed over to polling officers.
Polling begins at 7 am and ends at 5 pm. Holiday under Negotiable Instruments Act has been declared tomorrow.
Previously in 2007 (BJP government came to power in 2008), the Congress topped the tally, winning 1,606 wards, followed by JD(S) 1,502 and the BJP 1,180.
Stakes are particularly high for the ruling BJP as the party is without heavyweight B S Yeddyurappa, who last year parted ways and floated his own regional outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). KJP and BSR Congress of B Sriramulu, a former BJP Minister, is testing the political waters for the first time.
There are over 21,000 candidates in the fray for a total of 4,967 wards. Results would be declared on March 11. “We will win at least 1,600 to 1,800 wards,” JD(S) state unit president H D Kumaraswamy said.