The millions of votes polled in the Karnataka Assembly elections will be counted on Saturday, with both the ruling BJP and a resurgent Congress hoping to win and the Janata Dal-Secular looking at a hung verdict.
The electoral fortunes of top leaders – Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai of the BJP, Congress heavyweights Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) will be known on Saturday (May 13).
The counting will begin at 8 am in 36 centres across the state. Officials expect a clear picture to emerge by mid-day.
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Elaborate security arrangements have been made across Karnataka.
The state, the only one in southern India to be ruled by the BJP, saw a record turnout of 73.19 per cent on May 10 to elect a 224-member Assembly.
With most exit polls predicting a tight contest between the Congress and BJP, both the camps have their fingers tightly crossed although publicly they claim they are expecting a verdict in their favour.
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The JD-S appears to be expecting a hung verdict, which will enable to play a key role in government formation.
Most pollsters have given an edge to the Congress.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the star speaker, the BJP is looking to break a 38-year-old jinx where the people have never voted the incumbent party to power.
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The Congress feels a victory in Karnataka will strengthen its position vis-à-vis other parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Karnataka witnessed a dominantly three-cornered contest, with a direct fight among the Congress, BJP and JD-S in most constituencies.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which rules Delhi and Punjab, also fielded candidates. There were also smaller parties in the fray in a few constituencies.
“A government with full majority” was the strong pitch of the leaders of all the political parties during the high-decibel, no holds barred campaigning that ended on Monday.
In 2018, the BJP emerged as the single largest party by winning 104 seats, followed by the Congress with 80 seats and JD(S) 37.
The other winners included an independent. The BSP and the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) got one legislator each elected.
In 2018, the Congress garnered a vote-share of 38.04 per cent, followed by the BJP (36.22 per cent) and the JD-S (18.36 per cent).
With no party getting a clear majority, BS Yediyurappa of the BJP staked claim and formed a government. However, it was dissolved within three days, ahead of a trust vote.
Later, a Congress-JD-S alliance government took office with Kumaraswamy as the chief minister but the dispensation collapsed in 14 months. The BJP, with the help of defectors, then formed a government.
In the outgoing Assembly, the BJP has 116 MLAs, followed by the Congress 69 and JD-S 29.
(With agency inputs)