Supporters of Congress party wave party flags at an election rally in Bangalore. (Representational Image)
Supporters of Congress party wave party flags at an election rally. (Representational Image)Reuters

The Karnataka assembly polls began on Sunday with a voter turnout of 25 to 30 percent in the first three hours, reported Press Trust of India.

The Election Commission (EC) registered a 15 to 20 percent turnout in the fist three hours of voting. The EC, taking into consideration the scorching summer in the state, extended the duration of voting by one hour. The polling which started at 7 am will continue till 6 pm.

"The Commission has now taken into account the prevailing weather conditions in large parts of the state, particularly the extreme heat during the day, and considered it necessary to extend the hours of poll to facilitate the voters to cast their votes even in the late hours," the EC said in an order.

The polling is being held in 223 Assembly segments for 224 seats, out of which the voting for the Periyapatna constituency of Mysore district is postphoned to 28 May following the death of BJP candidate Sannamoge Gowda. The votes for all constituencies will be counted on 8 May.

"The voting process began on a peaceful note in all the 223 constituencies across the state under tight security. It started slowly and is picking up well," a poll official told IANS.

The ruling BJP, Congress, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and the newly formed Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) are the major contestants in the 2013 Karnataka Elections. While BJP hopes to retain its ruling power in the state, its opponent Congress looks forward to make a comeback after a gap of almost eight years.

For the Congress, internal conflicts and alleged corruption charges would play a vital role in deciding its victory in the state elections.

Former BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa, who heads the KJP, expressed hope that the new party will become the state's single-largest political power after the elections.

As many as 65,000 electronic voting machines have been used in the polling and 1.35 lakh police personnel have been deployed for the single phase poll in the state. The 43.6 million registered voters of Karnataka would seal the poll fate of nearly 3,000 candidates.

The 2008 elections, which brought the BJP to power, had a total turnout of 64.91 percent.