On Wednesday (March 29), the Election Commission announced that the Karnataka Assembly election will take place in a single phase on May 10, with results to be declared on May 13. This sets the stage for a significant electoral battle between the BJP and Congress ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha contest.
The Janata Dal (Secular) is the third major party in the state which has a 224-member strong assembly, of which BJP currently 119 seats, followed by Congress with 75. The JD (S) has 28 MLAs, while two seats are vacant.
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Addressing a press conference here, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the notification for the elections will be issued on April 13 and the last date for filing nomination papers will be April 20.
Kumar said the nomination papers will be scrutinised on April 21 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be April 24.
Kumar said the elections have been scheduled on a Wednesday, and not on a Monday or Friday, to encourage greater participation of voters.
“People can take a day off and have a long weekend. But by holding the poll on Wednesday, the possibility has been reduced,” he said, adding that the move is part of the ECs effort to ensure greater participation and curb voters’ apathy in going to the polling stations.
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The ruling BJP and the Congress have already launched spirited campaigns for the elections.
The Model Code of Conduct kicked in on Wednesday with the announcement of the poll. But Kumar said that even before the code got triggered, a strict vigil was ensured by enforcement agencies on the Commissions directions which were during a review meeting.
More than Rs 80 crore has been seized so far, he said.
Seeking to ensure inclusion and participation in the assembly polls, 100 per cent enrolment of eligible Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Karnataka is being ensured, the CEC said.
Forty Ethnic polling stations will be set up for PVTGs. Special emphasis is being laid on the participation of the third gender in the election process, he said.
He said some people do not wish to enrol as third gender. But the EC is willing go the extra mile to register them in the gender they want keeping in mind their sensitivities.
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Referring to urban apathy, Kumar said in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, amongst top 20 low voter turnout constituencies, nine were urban. This trend was also noticed in recently held Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections held in 2022, the CEC noted.
Focussed interventions are being made to create awareness in schools and colleges and voter awareness forums in organisations and RWAs, he said.
For the assembly elections, 58,282 polling stations will be set up in the state. The average voter per polling station is pegged at 883. Fifty per cent of the polling stations have webcasting facility.
A total of 1,320 polling stations will be managed by women officials.
Among the over 5,24 crore voters, over 5.60 lakh have been identified as persons with disability, the poll panel said.
(With agency inputs)