Polling for Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections began on a dull note on Sunday with many polling booths across the city reporting a lukewarm response from the electorate.
Few people were seen outside polling booths in residential localities of Cox Town, Lingarajpuram, Frazer Town, M. C. Layout, C. V. Raman Nagar, Shivajinagar and Bharathinagar. Only the supporters of candidates, were seen outside the booths in many areas of the city.
A total of 1,343 candidates are in fray for the elections to 198 wards of the BBMP. Elections to civic body are being held not only almost nine years after the earlier polls to the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), but also more than three years after the term of the previous body expired.
Polling was poor in Thanisandra in Ward No. 6, where only 123 out of 1,143 voters had cast their vote by 11.30 am on Sunday. “A little over 10 per cent of the total voters allotted to the booth had cast their votes in the first four and a half hour of polling”, said a poll official at Thandisandra.
Polling process was delayed in several booths in Subramanyanagar, Shivajinagar, Koramangala and Bharathinagar on account of malfunctioning of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Though election officials set right the problem and ensured start of polling in most booths, early morning voters in a few booths like J P Park in Bharathinagar had to endure a delay of almost two hours to cast their votes.
Several activists belonging to pro-Dalit organizations staged a protest at Nanjappa Circle in Shantinagar in the City against the alleged desecration of Ambedkar’s statue. When the protestors threatened to boycott the polls, local Congress MLA N. A. Harris, BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena and jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Police G. Ramesh reached the spot and pacified the protestors.
Mr. Hariss told the protestors that the alleged desecration was the handiwork of ruling party supporters to disrupt polling in areas, where the Congress has a lot of support. “Don’t play into the hands of BJP supporters”, he said.
The police in R. T. Nagar took a total of thirteen persons into custody on Sunday morning for allegedly possessing fake Voter ID cards. In contrast to the poor polling in most parts of the City, a booth in R. T. Nagar had recorded 225 votes out of a total of 578 allotted to the booth. The police have recovered Rs 1 lakh from the arrested and as many as 30 fake Voter ID cards.
At Jalahalli ward, City police took away six persons, who were trying to campaign within 100 metres from the booth. Fire broke out at a pandal near a polling station in Varthur.
In Vrishabhavati ward, the police sent out an agent of BJP following heated exchange over differences in voters list.
An AIADMK candidate from Ward No. 139 has sought re-poll on the grounds that the serial number allotted to him before polling has been changed.
In ward no 148, BJP has accused the police in Ejipura of supporting the BJP candidate. Police has to resort to caning groups of party supporters outside a polling booth in Sriramandira ward .
Complaints of missing names in the voters list were reported from Begur, Hebbal and Ganganagar in the city.