Campaigning for first phase of polling ends
The curtains came down on the two-week-long high decibel campaign by leaders of political parties to woo the electorate in 15 Lok Sabha and 120 Assembly constituencies going to the polls in the first phase on April 20 in Karnataka, at 1700 hrs today.
Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani sprearheaded the NDA campaign, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited three districts, one each in North, Central and South Karnataka, to appeal to voters to support her party in the simultaneous elections in the stae.
Former Prime Minister and JDS President H D Devegowda, Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna and Vijay Mallya of the Janata Party went through whirlwind electioneering tours for their respective parties.
While the BJP and Congress went on 'yatras' to impress the electorate, the other parties continued the traditional method of campaign, seeking the blessings of voters.
Advani traversed through 11 Lok Sabha constituencies on his 'Bharat Uday Yatra'. Krishna spanned out to all four regions of the state on his 'Vijaya Dundhubi Yatra', even as the state BJP undertook a 'Karanataka Uday Yatra' as a counter to it.
With the Election Commission tightening its vigil on poll expenditure of candidates, the number of vehicles fitted with haranguers roaming around were less in number in this election, as also the large size cutouts of leaders.
The poll fortunes of 90 candidates contesting 15 Lok Sabha seats and 932 aspirants for the assembly seats will be decided in this phase.
Prominent among those whose fortunes will be put to the test include Krishna, who has shifted his constituency from Maddur to Chamarajpet in Bangalore, Devegowda, seeking re-election from Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat, former union minister and state BJP president, Anantkumar and former railway minister C K Jaffer Sharief from Bangalore North, bidding for his eighth win.
Nonegenarian, Ramachandra Veerappa of the BJP, who is bidding for his ninth victory from Bidar reserved Lok Sabha constituency, is the seniormost candidate in the poll fray.
The poll prospects of senior Karnataka ministers, N Dharm Singh and M Mallikarjun Kharge, bidding for eight successive wins from Jewargi and Gurumitkal assembly constituencies respectively, will also be decided in this phase.
Lok Sabha constituenceis Bidar (Res), Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Kolar (Res), Kanakapura, Bangalore North, Bangalore South, Bagalkot and Bijapur and 120 assembly segments coming under them go to the polls on April 20.
Elections in 13 Lok Sabha and 104 assembly segments will be held in the second phase on April 26.