About 8.96 lakh voters of Dakshina Kannada will decide the fate of 7,411 candidates contesting 199 gram panchayat seats on Wednesday. All nine members of the Kalmadka Gram Panchayat in Sullia taluk have been elected unopposed while three gram panchayats are yet to complete their term.

Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj said in a statement that additional security would be provided to 428 of the 1,103 booths set up for these elections. As many as 252 booths in the district have been identified as sensitive and 178 as hypersensitive. Mr. Ponnuraj said the entire polling in these booths would be monitored and video-graphed. Political leaders, party workers and those engaged in poll-related activity should not be seen in the gram panchayat areas where they are not voters.

Mr. Ponnuraj has warned that vehicles transporting voters to polling booths would be confiscated. Mobile squads and well-equipped police teams would be going around to ensure peaceful and smooth conduct of polls. Every set of 15 booths would be covered by a mobile squad. In addition, the observers appointed by the State Election Commission would be touring the district. As many as 175 buses, 17 minibuses, 92 vans, 223 jeeps have been requisitioned for the polls, which will be conducted by 4,412 polling officials.

Woman power

The elections to the panchayats will be keenly watched by political parties and those pitching for a larger share for women at the grass-roots level.

According to an estimate, more than 40 per cent of the candidates are women. Several women are expected to win the elections, opening a new chapter in empowerment of women in the district. Of the 8.96 lakh voters in the district, 4.51 lakh are women. As many as 3,007 women are in the fray for the seats reserved for them.

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