Bengaluru: An estimated 19.58 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 11 am in 14 constituencies of Karnataka Thursday, where the direct contest is between the Congress-JD(S) alliance and the BJP.
The highest turnout was recorded in Dakshina Kannada with 32.10 per cent and the least in Bangalore Rural with 13.54 per cent till 11 am, poll officials said. In three constituencies of Bangalore North, Central and South 15.85 per cent, 15.53 per cent and 19.48 per cent voter turnout have been recorded so far respectively. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the scion of Mysuru royal family Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar along with wife Trishika, pontiffs Siddalinga Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt and Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji of Suttur mutt were among the prominent personalities to cast their vote.
Former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and his wife Chennamma voted in Hassan district. Earlier, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy along with wife Anita and son Nikhil, who is JD(S) candidate from Mandya cast their vote at Kethiganahalli that comes under Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha seat.
In Mangaluru and Udupi, two brides cast their votes ahead of their marriage on Thursday, while in Madikeri a bridegroom was seen entering the poll booth to cast his vote in a traditional attire.
There are reports about two centenarians, one each in Dakshina Kannada district and Bengaluru, casting their vote. Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, Congress candidate in Bangalore North Krishna Byre Gowda, Bangalore South BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy along with wife Sudha, IT czar Nandan Nilekani, Kannada actors Ramesh Arvind, Sudeep were among prominent personalities who have cast their vote so far. Polling began at 7 am in 30,164 polling stations that are mostly in the southern part of the state covering almost the entire old Mysuru region and few coastal districts.
A total of 2,67,51,893 voters are expected to make their choice from among 241 candidates in the fray during the first phase. Among the 241 candidates, 224 are men and 17 women. While the highest number of 31 candidates are from Bangalore North, the least is in Hassan with six candidates.
Prominent contestants in the first phase include former Prime Minister Deve Gowda (Tumkur), his grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy from Hassan and Mandya respectively, as also Union Minister Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), and senior Congress leaders Verappa Moily (Chikkaballapura) and K H Muniyappa (Kolar).
Other candidates include multi-lingual actors and independent candidates SumalathaAmbareesh (Mandya) and Prakash Raj (Bangalore North), and BJP's Tejasvi Surya (Bangalore South), who is pitted against veteran Congressman B K Hariprasad. Of the 14 constituencies going to the polls, the BJP and Congress had won six each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and JD(S) in two.
While the BJP is contesting in 13 constituencies and supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya, Congress and JD(S) have fielded their candidates in 10 and four constituencies respectively.
The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in northern districts, will go to polls in the second phase on April 23.