BENGALURU: Fourteen of the total 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka will go to the polls in the first phase on Thursday.
The constituencies, which are going to the polls in the first phase, are mostly in the southern part of the state covering almost the entire old Mysuru region and few coastal districts.
Of the 14 constituencies going to the polls, the BJP and Congress had won six each in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and JD(S) in two.
The BJP is contesting in 13 constituencies and supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya.
Meantime, Congress and JD(S) have fielded their candidates in 10 and four constituencies respectively.
Among the 241 candidates, 226 are men and 15 women. Out of total 2,67,53,840 voters in the 14 constituencies, 1,35,45,545 are men, 1,32,05,515 women and 2,780 third gender.
Polling will take place in 30,197 booths in the first phase of which 6,318 have been designated by police and election authorities as critical and 23,879 normal.
Police said 90,997 police personnel would be deployed for poll duty, including home guards, civil defence, forest guards and jail warders.
Prominent contestants in the first phase include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (Tumkur), his grandsons Prajwal Revanna and Nikhil Kumaraswamy from Hassan and Mandya respectively, as also Union Minister Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North) and senior Congress leaders Verappa Moily (Chikkaballapura) and K H Muniyappa (Kolar).
Other candidates include actress and independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh (Mandya) and Tejasvi Surya (Bangalore South), who was given BJP ticket at the final moment, denying it to Union Minister Ananth Kumar's widow Tejaswini.
A key constituency is Mandya, where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil is making his electoral debut.
Spotlight is also on Tumkur where Kumaraswamy's father and former Prime Minister and H D Deve Gowda is contesting for the first time, after vacating the Hassan Lok Sabha seat from where he had been contesting to his other grandson Prajwal Revanna.
Prajwal too seems to be facing a tough battle in Hassan with former Congress Minister A Manju as his opponent from the BJP.
Other key seats are Dakshina Kannada and Udupi-Chikmagalur, where the Congress-JD(S) combine is hoping to cause a dent to BJP's continued dominance, taking advantage of "anti-incumbency" against saffron party candidates Nalin Kumar Kateel and Shobha Karandlaje respectively, who are seeking re-election.
The BJP has set a target of winning 22 out of total 28 seats in the state and is hoping to win the maximum number of seats in the first phase, banking on the "Modi wave".
On the other hand, for the Congress and JD(S), it will be a test of their alliance.
The remaining 14 constituencies, mostly in northern districts, will go to polls in the second phase of April 23.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won in 17, Congress in 9 and JD(S) in two seats. However, in the by-polls held in November last year, the BJP had lost Bellary seat to the Congress.
The party-wise vote share in 2014 polls show that BJP had secured 43.37 per cent, Congress 41.15 per cent and JD(S) 11.07 per cent.
With inputs from PTI