Barring a few instances of technical delay, disturbance at polling stations, and poll boycott, the second phase of the gram panchayat elections in the State concluded peacefully on Sunday, with a good turnout reported.
The second phase saw one poll postponement owing to error in ballot paper. In Belagavi district, during polling in Kadampur Gram Panchayat in Ramdurg taluk, it was found that the symbol of a candidate was printed wrongly on the ballot paper. Commotion prevailed for a while and subsequently, polling was put off to Monday. A similar case was reported in Mattihalli Gram Panchayat in Harapanahalli taluk of Ballari district, where voters boycotted polling for the same reason.
In Amaragol and Katnur villages of Dharwad district, voters stayed away following technical issues concerning the voter list. In Malligawad village, voters boycotted polling again, protesting the delay in meeting their demand of making their village a gram panchayat headquarters. The residents of one village in Chamarajanagar boycotted voting over man-animal conflict.
Clashes and arrest
In Gadag district, Congress and BJP workers clashed after zilla panchayat member Shivakumar Neelagund (BJP) was allegedly attacked at a polling station at Menasagi village in Ron taluk. After being suspended for over an hour, polling resumed under heavy bandobast. In Nipanyal village, near Raibag, Yashwant Myagadi was injured when Chandru Talwar, a candidate, and his supporters attacked him, allegedly after he complained about them distributing money on Saturday.
In Dakshina Kannada district, the police arrested Hukrappa alias Narayana Puchama, a contestant in Kalmadka Gram Panchayat of Sullia taluk, on the charge of sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl. The candidate was supported by the BJP.
Much before polling began at Ingalagi Gram Panchayat in Chitapur taluk of Kalaburagi district on Sunday, a contestant gave birth to a baby girl. Manjula Guduba, contesting from ward number 4, gave birth in the early hours of Sunday, sources in her family said. Interestingly Manjula’s mother-in-law is also in the fray, but from ward number 3.
The second phase of the gram panchayat polls, held on Sunday, saw a turnout of 80.71%, as against 82% in the first phase held on December 22.
“The turnout was almost in tune with that in the first phase,” said State Election Commissioner B. Basavaraaju.
While Bengaluru Rural district recorded the highest turnout, at 91.86%, Bengaluru Urban district recorded the lowest turnout (67.48%), followed by Vijayapura (69%) and Yadgir (70%). The turnout data might change slightly with all the reports coming in and tabulated by Monday, sources in the SEC said. Meanwhile, Dr. Basavaraaju said, 97 COVID-19 patients cast their vote in the polls.