Voting was underway on Thursday in the first phase of polling for Karnataka's 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state's central and southern regions amid tight security, an election official said.
"Voting began at 7 a.m. in all the 30,164 booths across the 14 parliamentary seats of the state under tight security," the official told IANS here.
The constituencies where polling is underway are Udupi-Chikmagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Chitradurga (SC), Tumkur, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajnagar (SC), Bangalore Rural, Bangalore North, Bangalore Central, Bangalore South, Chikkaballapur and Kolar (SC).
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Of the 2.67-crore electorate in the first phase, 1.35-crore male and 1.32-crore female voters will decide the fate of 241 candidates, including 15 women and 133 Independents.
In all, 52,112 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are in use with 36,196 controlling units and 37,705 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit (VVPATs) that allows voters to verify that their vote is cast correctly.
"Over 1.54-lakh personnel are on duty in all the polling stations across the 14 seats with 38,597 police personnel providing security to ensure free and fair polling," said the official.
Of the total booths, 16 per cent or 4,826 of them are considered critical in Bangalore Rural, Hassan, Mandya and Tumkur, additional police have been deployed to maintain and law and order for peaceful voting.
"Five companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have also been deployed in sensitive and hyper-sensitive booths across the region," the official added.
Among the constituencies, Bangalore North has the highest number of 31 candidates, followed by 25 in Bangalore South and 22 each in Bangalore Central, Mandya and Mysore.
Lowest number of candidates is six in Hassan, followed by 10 in Chamarajnagar, 12 in Udupi-Chikmagalur and 13 in Dakshina Kannada.
Key constituencies in the first phase are all the three seats in Bangalore, Mandya, Hassan and Tumkur.
Unlike in the past elections, the main parties - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress is locked in straight contests in this election, as the latter has entered into a pre-poll tie-up with the ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) to field joint candidates as part of their seat-sharing arrangements.
Of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Congress is in fray 21 and seven by JD-S.
Of the 14 seats in the first phase, Congress is in fray from 10 and JD-S from four seats.
Polling in the remaining 14 parliamentary seats in the western and northern regions of the state will be held on April 23.
Vote count for all the 28 seats will be on May 23.