Bangalore, Jan 04 (Agencies): Karnataka's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday took early leads in polls to the local governing councils, the winning of which is crucial for Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to stay in office.

Of the 30 district panchayats, the BJP was leading in 14, the Congress in seven and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in four—after two hours of counting that began at 171 centres across the State at 8 am.

In the 176 sub-district panchayats, the BJP was ahead in 20, the Congress in 10 and the JD-S in seven.

Over 65 per cent of the 21 million voters, nearly half of them women, cast their ballots in the elections to the 30 district and 176 taluka panchayats on December 26, 31 and January 1.
The BJP, Congress and JD-S are locked in a three-way fight in a majority of the 1,013 zila and 3,659 taluka panchayat seats.

Most of the results are expected to be announced by noon as electronic voting machines were used in the polls for the first time.

Yeddyurappa, who is facing charges of favouring his kin with prime land in and around Bangalore, led his party in the poll battle.

These are the first elections to the local governing councils after the BJP came to power in the State in May 2008.