“The overall voter turnout is 67.66 after polling ended at 6 p.m., with all those in the queue by then also casting their ballot,” a poll official told IANS.
Among the 14 seats, Shimoga in Malnad region registered the highest voting of 76.45 per cent, followed by Chikkodi with 75.42 per cent, Uttara Kannada with 74.07 per cent and Davanagere with 72.57 per cent.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s B.Y. Raghavendra is the candidate in Shimoga against Madhu Bangarappa of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). They are sons of former Chief Ministers B.S. Yeddyurappa of the BJP and late S. Bangarappa of the Congress, respectively.
The lowest turnout was in Raichur (ST) – 57.85 per cent, followed by Gulbarga (ST) 59.59 per cent, Bijapur (SC) 60.28 per cent and Bidar 62.72 per cent.
Polling percentage in other six seats were 71.35 in Haveri, 70.05 in Dharwad, 69.57 in Bagalkot, 68.43 in Koppal, 67.24 per cent in Belgaum and Bellary 66.22.
Union Minister and BJP’s firebrand candidate Anant Kumar Hegde was in the fray for the fourth time from Uttar Kannada, while Congress leader in the 16th Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge is contesting for a hat-trick from Gulbarga (SC) against BJP’s Umesh Jadav.
Voting was held in 28,022 polling stations across the regions peacefully barring stray incidents and delays due to glitches in EVMs and VVPATs initially.
In all, 237 candidates, including 10 women, were in the fray, with 164 Independents.
With the ruling JD-S and Congress fielding common candidates as part of their pre-poll alliance, the BJP was locked in a straight contest with them after nearly three decades.
While the Congress contested in 11 seats — Chikkodi, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Gulbarga (SC), Raichur (ST), Bidar, Koppal, Bellary (ST), Haveri, Dharwad and Davanagere seats, the JD-S contested in Bijapur (SC), Shimoga and Uttara Kannada.
In the Bellary (ST) seat, BJP’s Devandrappa faced outgoing Congress member V.S. Ugrappa who wrested the seat from the BJP in the November 2018 by-election.
In Dharwad, outgoing BJP MP Prahlad Joshi contested against Vinay Kulkarni of the Congress.
In Bidar, Congress state working President Eshwar Khandre faced sitting BJP member Bhagawanth Khuba.
BJP’s Union Minister Ramesh Jigajinagi contested against JD-S candidate Sunita Devanand.
The Congress has also fielded woman candidate Veena Kasappanavar in Bagalkot against outgoing BJP MP P.C. Gaddigoudar.
The BJP has not fielded any woman in this phase. Its sitting member Shobha Karandlaje re-contested from Udupi-Chikamagalur in the April 18 polling.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 11 and the Congress 3, with JD-S none.
In the April 18 polling in the central and southern region, the overall voter turnout was 69 per cent.
Of the 14 seats, the BJP contested in 13 and supported Independent multi-lingual South Indian actress Sumalatha Ambareesh in the high-profile Mandya against Nikhil Gowda of the JD-S and son of state Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and grandson of JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda.
Of the 14 seats on April 18, the Congress contested 10 and JD-S 4, including Hassan, Tumkur and Udupi-Chickmagalur.
Deve Gowda contested from Tumkur, paving way for his other grandson Prajwal to contest from his bastion Hassan. Prajwal is the son of state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna, elder brother of Kumaraswamy and second eldest son of Gowda senior.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP and Congress won 6 seats each out of these and JD-S 2.