Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi urged the electorate to come out in large numbers and vote as Karnataka headed to polls to elect its 15th legislative assembly amid tight security and heightened vigil.

The PM, who is on a two-day tour of Nepal, took to Twitter on 12 May to urge the electorate of Karnataka to participate in the festival of democracy by coming out in large numbers and vote.

“Urging my sisters and brothers of Karnataka to vote in large numbers today. I would particularly like to call upon young voters to vote and enrich this festival of democracy with their participation,” wrote the PM, who had led a high-octane campaign trail for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the hustings.

 

His message was also posted in Kannada.

At the same time, Gandhi, who sent out a clear signal of challenging Modi for the Prime Minister’s seat in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, also urged people in Karnataka to vote while welcoming the first time voters.

In a tweet posted in Kannada, the 47-year-old Gandhi said that “voter turnout is a sign of dynamic democracy”.

“I welcome all my young friends who are voting for the first time in Karnataka,” said Gandhi adding that the election means that people in Karnataka will be able to celebrate the largest festival of democracy.

 

Voting began across Karnataka on Saturday.

“A single-phase polling began at 7.00 am in 222 of the 224 assembly constituencies, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes (ST),” said an official.

Polling in Bengaluru’s Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to 28 May in the voter ID cards case and countermanded in the city’s Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant BN Vijaya Kumar on 4 May.

The state has over 5.07-crore electorate, including 2.62-crore men and 2.5-crore women. New voters are 15,42,000 in the 18-19 age group.

Voting is being held in 58,008 polling stations of 30 districts across the state, with 600 of them as pink booths, manned by all-women personnel, and 28 ethnic booths.