More than 60 per cent of voters cast their ballots in elections to urban local bodies (ULB) in Karnataka today in a largely peaceful exercise that has generated considerable excitement as Assembly polls are round the corner.
"Till 3 PM, 56.43 per cent of voters cast their ballots. It has certainly crossed more than 60 per cent as of close at 5 pm.
Exact poll percentage would be known later", an Election Commission official said.
As many as 207 ULBs -- seven city corporations, 43 citymunicipal corporations, 64 town municipal councils and 93 town panchayats -- went to polls. Nearly 5000 wards in all were up for grabs, with close to 22,000 candidates in the fray.
It's one less than the previously announced 208 ULBs as none filed nominations in Terdal Town Municipal Council in Bagalkot district. The people there were protesting against the Government not including Terdal in newly carved out Taluks in the State.
"The election was totally peaceful",the EC official said.
Nevertheless, there were complaints of missing names in voters' lists, malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines and verbal duels between political rivals in some parts of the State, but they were described as "minor incidents".
"According to reports, BJP has got good support in the elections. I am confident that the BJP would emerge as the number one (winner)", Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, whovoted in his home-town of Hubli-Dharwad in north Karnataka, told reporters.
Assembly elections in the State are due in May,and today's poll in urban pockets would demonstrate the strength of main political parties in the State -- BJP,Congress and JDS.
Karnataka Janatha Paksha of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and BSR Congress of former BJP Minister B Sriramulu are testing the political waters for the first time,and their performance would be keenly watched.
Last time around, in 2007 (BJP government came to power in 2008), the Congress topped the tally, winning 1606 wards, followed by JDS 1502 and the BJP 1180.
The stakes are particularly high for the ruling BJP now as the party is without heavyweight Mr Yeddyurappa, who last year parted ways with it and floated KJP.