A 70.23% voter turnout was recorded today in the high-stake Karnataka Assembly elections amid projections that the ruling BJP was on a slippery ground against a resurgent Congress.
The polling began on a brisk note at 7am and the turnout ebbed in the afternoon as the mercury soared before regaining momentum in the last hours in 223 seats in the 224-member house for which a total of 2,940 candidates were in the fray with a 4.35 crore-strong electorate eligible to vote.
Election in Periyapatna in Mysore district has been put off to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate.
Electoral officials tonight said 70.23 voting percentage was recorded with the highest turnout of 77.95% in Bangalore Rural and the lowest of 52.83% in Bangalore Urban.
Counting of votes will be taken up on May 8.
Prominent candidates included Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee G Parameshwara, former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and JDS state unit President HD Kumaraswamy.
Elaborate security arrangements had been made with 1.35 lakh police personnel on duty in some 52,000 polling booths where about 65,000 electronic voting machines were in place.
Barring sporadic incidents, including one at Bellary, the voting was largely peaceful. None of the incidents was of such a nature that called for repolling, Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha told reporters.
Breakaway parties -- Karnataka Janatha Paksha of B S Yeddyurappa and BSR Congress formed by former Minister B Sriramulu -- are projected to dent the prospects of BJP, already battered by intra-party fights and allegations of corruption.
While the overall voter turnout was 64.91% in the 2008 elections, the average in the 28 segments of Bangalore was a low 47.3%.
Jha said two officials on poll duty died at Honnavar in Uttara Kannada and Tumkur district.
Sectoral Officer MC Mahendra died before poll in Honnavar early today and Thimmaiah, who was the Presiding Officer, passed away due to suspected cardiac arrest in a booth in Madhugiri taluk.
A Haveri report said Leelavathi Mekki, a 28-year-old teacher, who reported for poll duty yesterday at Negalur in Haveri district, complained of chest pain and died today in neighbouring Davangere, where she was shifted.
Pre-poll surveys and exit polls have predicted that Congress is all set to unseat the BJP to stage a comeback to power after more than an eight-year long gap.
With KJP expected to play spoiler to the prospects of BJP, its strength is forecast to dwindle by more than half from 110 seats it won in the 2008 elections installing the party's first ever government in South.
JDS is projected to improve by a dozen seats compared to 28 the last time around.
Police said they arrested four persons who were openly wielding swords in the district headquarters town of Kolar, adding that a major clash was averted between supporters of an Independent and a political party.
At Sidlagatta in Chikkaballapura district, one person was injured seriously by supporters of another party.
In a Bellary booth, a voter was allegedly hit by a policeman over a trivial issue and sustained injuries in the ear.
In the 2008 elections to the total of 224 seats, BJP, bagged 33.86% of the votes polled, followed by Congress (34.59) with 80 seats and JDS 19.13% votes.