Bangalore: Karnataka`s 17 districts vote on Friday to elect local governing councils in the second of the three-phase elections whose outcome will impact the stability of the Bharatiya Janata Party`s (BJP) first government in the state.
Over 15 million voters, almost half of them women, are eligible to cast their ballots to elect 595 zila (district) and 2,161 taluka (sub-district) panchayat members.
Like in the first phase, held in 12 districts Dec 26, it is a three-way battle Friday among the ruling BJP, the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular for most of the seats.
In the third phase, Gulbarga district will vote Jan 1. Results would be known Jan 4.
The districts voting Friday are Chickmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Hasan, Kodagu, Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagara, Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkote, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Uttara Kannada, Davanagere and Koppal.
The campaign has centred mainly on alleged illegal land deals by Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa since he assumed office in May 2008.
Yeddyurappa managed to stave off pressure to remove him by convincing the BJP central leadership that charges against him would not hold among voters in rural and semi-urban areas and the party would bag majority of the seats.
The last elections were held in 2005 when the BJP was not in power in the state. It had come third in the overall seats tally with the Congress emerging as a clear winner.
Yeddyurappa and state BJP leaders have been talking of capturing power in at least 22 of the 30 zila panchayats and over 100 out of the 176 taluka panchayats.
The BJP`s poor show in these polls would result in heightened pressure on it not only from the Congress and the JD-S but a section of the party to replace Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa`s alleged role in a land scandal hit the BJP when it was demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the 2G spectrum scandal.
With the Congress using it as a stick to beat the BJP, the party`s senior leader LK Advani said the leadership was seized of the allegations against Yeddyurappa and was acting on it to find out the truth.
Yeddyurappa is charged with favouring his kin in allotment of prime land in and around Bangalore. The row forced Yeddyurappa to make his two sons, daughter, son-in-law and other relatives surrender the lands.