Special Correspondent

Candidates banned from offering puja to EVMs

Exercising of franchise by husband and wife together prohibited

BANGALORE: The curtains came down on the public campaign by candidates and political parties on Tuesday evening for the second phase of polling to be held on April 30 in 11 Lok Sabha constituencies of Karnataka.

As many as nine sitting MPs are contesting elections in the second phase. Polling would decide the fate of prominent candidates such as the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D Deve Gowda (Hassan), the former Chief Minister S. Bangrappa (Shimoga), Bhartiya Janata Party State unit president D.V. Sadananda Gowda (Udupi-Chikmagalur), the former Union Minister B. Janardhana Poojary (Dakshina Kannada) and Union Minister of State M.H. Ambareesh (Mandya).

Chief Electoral Officer M.N. Vidyashankar has asked non-voting political functionaries to leave the constituencies as the campaign ended at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The restriction would apply to election agents if they are not voters of constituencies. Only group of three to four persons are allowed to conduct door-to door campaign.

The commission also banned offering pujas to electronic voting machines by contesting candidates during exercise of their franchise. Since it is a secret ballot, the commission also banned exercising of franchise by husband and wife together.

As many as 156 candidates are the in the fray. The Congress and the BJP have fielded candidates in all 11 constituencies, Janata Dal (Secular) in six constituencies, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) in one constituency each.

Polling will be held in 18,452 polling stations, including 755 auxiliary, in 11 constituencies and they are Bagalkot, Haveri, Dharwad, Davangere, Shimoga, Udupi-Chikmagalur, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada, Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagar (SC). Over 1.55 crore, including 76.79 lakh women, voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

In this phase, highest number candidates are contesting in the Davangere constituency (28) and the lowest in Udupi-Chikmagalur (9). With this phase, elections to all 28 Lok Sabha constituencies will come to an end in Karnataka. The first phase of election was held on April 23 in 17 constituencies.

Officials in the CEO’ office here said communication network among the polling offers in 11 constituencies had been established and all of them have been provided with mobile phones. The mustering work involving transportation of materials, including electronic voting machines, would be done on Wednesday.

The returning officers, and observers, micro-observers and the police have stepped up vigil against election malpractices.