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Karnataka Election 2018: 70% turnout, exit polls predict fractured mandate

Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: BJP hopes to snatch yet another state from ruling Congress, while JD(S) is projected to play the kingmaker

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

B S Yeddyurappa, Siddaramaiah, Karnataka elections
Karnataka Chief ministerial candidates B S Yeddyurappa (BJP) and Siddaramaiah (Congress)

A high-stakes battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with over 35 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was "very very confident" that the Congress would retain power in the only major southern state it now rules even as officials said about 70 per cent of the over 5.06 crore electorate had voted till 6 pm. Voting was peaceful by and large barring a few incidents of some non-functional EVMs, missing voter names and procedural delays, an official told IANS. All three main contenders for power -- Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- claimed they would win hands down. Voting in Chikkaballapur and Ramanagara districts witnessed a record 76 per cent polling, while the average polling across Bengaluru was 48 per cent till 5.30 p.m. The BJP's Chief Ministerial face B S Yeddyurappa was among the first to vote at Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He has claimed that the BJP will secure 140-150 seats and that he will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his swearing in. Siddaramaiah ridiculed him after voting on Saturday, saying the BJP leader was "mentally disturbed" and that the Congress was sure of bagging more than 120 seats. JD-S chief and former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, his wife Chennamma and second son H. D. Revanna cast their votes in their hometown Holenarsipura in Hassan district. "We expect a possibility of forming the government as we have done well to get a majority," Deve Gowda told reporters. Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of voter ID cards and cancelled in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B. N. Vijaya Kumar. In all, voting was conducted in 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city. Karnataka has over 50 million (5.06 crore) electorate, including 26 million (2.6 crore) men and 25 million (2.5 crore) women. A total of 1.54 million (15.42 lakh) voters, aged 18-19, have registered for the first time. The highest number of voters (600,003) are in Bengaluru South and the lowest (170,000) at Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district. Polling was held in 58,008 stations in 30 districts, with 600 of them dubbed 'pink booths', overseen by women personnel. Over 1.5 lakh security personnel were deployed. The vote count will take place on May 15. In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. A total of 222 are from the Congress and BJP each, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties. About 450 contestants are in the battle from Bengaluru. Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari at Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkot district. BJP's Lok Sabha member from Ballari B R Sriramaulu, contesting from two seats including Badami and Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district, on Saturday worshipped a cow and visited temples before voting. JD-S state president and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is in the fray from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats in the old Mysuru region. Yeddyurappa is contesting from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district in Malnad region. Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district. Top 10 developments on 2018 1. Exit polls predict tight race: Exit polls are divided over Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, while predicting JD(S) to be the kingmaker in Karnataka, which held its Assembly Elections 2018 voting today. Chanakya Exit polls indicated a clear victory for BJP (120 seats), followed by Congress with 73 seats and JD(S) 26. India Today-Axis My India Exit Poll data indicates 106-118 seats for Congress, BJP 79-92, followed by JD(S) with 22-30 seats. Meanwhile, TIMES NOW-VMR Exit Poll data indicates a hung Assembly with BJP getting 80-93 seats, Congress 90-103 and JD(S) 31-39. All the news channels, research firms have declared official election forecasts. Popular opinion polls that were conducted include ABP News-Lokniti-CSDS, India Today-Karvy, Times Now-VMR and India TV poll. Majority of opinion polls done ahead of elections have forecast a hung assembly in Karnataka wherein the Janata Dal (Secular) is expected to be the kingmaker. 2. 70% voter turnout in Karnataka: Some 70 per cent voters exercised their franchise for Karnataka Assembly polls on Saturday, the Election Commission said here.

Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said the figure was likely to go up as data was still being collated from various polling stations where people queued up beyond 6 pm when the voting was supposed to end.

"As of now, the total turnout figure received is 70 per cent. However, we expect this number to increase, and hope it surpasses that of the previous elections," he said. 3. High-voltage Karnataka battle ends, millions vote: A high-stakes battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was "very very confident" that the Congress would retain power in the only major southern state it now rules as officials said more than 60 per cent of the over 5.06-crore electorate had voted till 6 p.m.

"Voting has been peaceful by and large barring a few incidents of some non-functional EVMs, missing voter names and procedural delays," an official told IANS.

All three main contenders for power -- the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- claimed they would win hands down.

4. EVM in Bengaluru only registering votes for Lotus, says Congress leader: An EVM at a polling booth here was registering votes only for the BJP's 'Lotus' symbol irrespective of which button was pressed, Congress leader Brijesh Kalappa claimed on Saturday.

"There are five booths opposite my parents' apartment at RMV II stage (in the northern suburb). In the second booth, any button pressed registers a vote only to 'kamal ke phool' (lotus). Angry voters are returning without casting their vote," tweeted Congress spokesman Kalappa as Karnataka voted to elect a new assembly.

The Congress leader alleged that voting from the booth was stopped by the Election Commission officials for a while and later resumed.

5. BJP, Congress workers distribute cash for votes: As Karnataka voting is underway, BJP and Congress workers have allegedly been caught distributing cash for votes in south Bengaluru, reported India Today. Outside Nalini Raghunatha Rao degree college, BJP workers allegedly distributed Rs 500 while the Congress was seen handing out Rs 600, the English news channel added. ALSO READ: First-time voters get free dosas in Bengaluru 6. Confident of Congress retaining power in Karnataka, says Siddaramaiah: Amidst the polling for Karnataka Assembly, Chief Minister Siddarmaiah expressed confidence that Congress would again form the government in the state with a clear majority.

"Congress will get clear majority there is no doubt on this, we are very-very confident that Congress will come back to power with clear majority," Siddarmaiah told reporters here, and added that Congress would win more than 120 seats.

The Chief Minister asserted that the poor from all communities were with the Congress, while commenting that numerous speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were "hollow that did not make any compact on people of Karnataka."

Responding to BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa's statement that he would form government in the state on May 17, Siddaramaiah quipped, "He's mentally disturbed now.

Click here to read our LIVE blog on 2018

7. Pink Booths to third generation EVMs, several firsts in Karnataka: From all-women managed 'Pink Booths' to the use of third generation Electronic Voting Machines, the assembly elections in Karnataka are marked by several firsts.

The country's IT hub saw electoral authorities initiate a slew of initiatives targeting a of 75. As the outcry about the alleged vulnerability of the EVMs to tampering grew louder, the Election Commission has come up with the 'M3 EVMs' that are tamper proof and stops when attempts are made to meddle with it. On a pilot basis, the Election commission chose five assembly constituencies in Bengaluru-- Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Shivajinagar, Shanthinagar, Gandhi Nagar and Rajaji Nagar in Bengaluru. However, election to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar has been deferred owing to large-scale malpractices and a row over the seizure of over 9,750 voter ID cards from a flat. 8. JD-S expects forming government, says Deve Gowda: Just after casting his vote, Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) supremo H. D.

Deve Gowda on Saturday said that his party expects a possibility of forming the government.

"We expect a possibility of forming the government, we have done well," Gowda told ANI in Hassan.

Gowda cast his vote at polling booth no.244 in Holenarasipura town in Hassan district. His wife Chennamma Deve Gowda, son HD Revanna and other family members were also present along with him.

JD-S is looking to establish itself once again in Karnataka politics and is expected to give a tough fight to both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

ALSO READ: Karnataka election: Shiv Sena chides Modi, says 'don't mock Rahul'; updates 9. Important BJP candidates to watch out for in Karnataka election 2018: BJP's B Sreeramulu, Janardhan Reddy's close aide and sitting lawmaker, who is fighting from Badami against Congress' Siddaramaiah, the current chief minister of the state and BJP's chief ministerial candidate and sitting lawmaker from Shikaripura constituency are among the top candidates for Karnataka Assembly Elections. Other heavyweights from the BJP include - Jagadish Shettar, leader of Opposition and former chief minister from Hubli-Dharwad-Central, G Somashekara Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy, the famous Reddy brothers involved in illegal mining, from Bellary City and Harapanahalli respectively. Senior BJP leaders K S Eshwarappa (Shimoga) , S Suresh Kumar (Rajajinagar), R Ashoka (Padmanabanagar) are also to watch out for in ALSO READ: Siddaramaiah dares Modi, Yeddyurappa for debate 10. Important Congress candidates to watch out for in Karnataka election 2018: From Congress, the list of heavyweights for Karnataka poll 2018 include Rahim Khan (Bidar), H K Patil (Gadag), R V Deshpande (Haliyal), five times lawmaker KB Koliwad from Ranebennur, Anil H Lad from Bellary City, Kagodu Thimmappa from Sagar, President of the KPCC - G Parameshwara from Koratagere, KR Ramesh Kumar from Srinivaspur, Krishna Byregowda contesting from Byatarayanapura and K J George from Sarvagnanagar. Bengaluru Mayor R Sampath Raj from CV Raman Nagar, veteran Congressman R Roshan Baig from Shivajinagar, working president of KPCC Dinesh Gundu Rao from Gandhinagar, State Home Minister and six times lawmaker Ramalinga Reddy from BTM Layout, state minister of energy DK Shivakumar from Kanakapura and Yathindra Siddaramaiah, son of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, contesting from Varuna constituency, are some of the heavyweights from the Congress party for 2018. Important JD (S) candidates to watch out for in Karnataka election 2018: Among the heavyweights from JD (S) are - S Madhu Bangarappa, son of former CM S Bangarappa who is contesting from Sorab constituency. HD Kumaraswamy, party state president and former chief minister from Ramanagaram, H D Revanna, son of HD Devegowda, fighting from Holenarasipur, AH Vishwanath from Hunsur, Chikkanna from Heggadadevankote, GT Devegowda from Chamundeshwari and KS Rangappa from Chamaraja. Subramanyam Sharma, All India Mahila Empowerment Party (AIMEP) party leader and grandson of former presidents VV Giri and S Radhakrishnan is also among the list of heavyweight candidates for BJP in Karnataka election 2018: The BJP had ruled the state between 2008 and 2013, the only time it did so, but its tenure was marred by intra-party feuds and allegations of corruption. One of its three chief ministers and its current chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa was in jail over corruption charges. Though the BJP launched its campaign, calling it "mission 150 (seats)", Shah told a press conference on Thursday the party will win over 130 constituencies. Unlike in 2013, when the BJP split into factions with Yeddyurappa forming KJP and B Sriramulu of Ballari floating BSR Congress, they are all united this time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook an adrenaline-charged campaign for the BJP, while Congress president Rahul Gandhi helmed his party's electoral offensive. ALSO READ: Karnataka election: Yeddy-Reddy combo aim to loot, plunder, says Congress JD(S) in Karnataka Election: JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy has conceded it was a "battle for survival" for his party which has been out of power for a decade now. Congress in Karnataka Election: No party in Karnataka has won a second successive term in office since 1985 when the Janata Dal under Ramakrishna Hegde had retained power. The Congress is confident of breaking the jinx, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah saying the party will create history. "I am often told history is against me as no sitting govt in Karnataka has been re-elected in a long time. But we are here to create history and not to obey it," Siddaramaiah tweeted. The Congress' main challenger BJP has spared no effort to ensure that history is repeated. The Congress is also aiming at retaining the only large state it rules after Punjab. Some of the key issues that Karnataka voters may consider while voting: • Farmer crisis: The BJP claimed during its campaign that more than 3,500 farmers committed suicide under the "anti-farmer" Siddaramaiah Government. The BJP said that if the Yeddyurappa Government is voted to power in the state, farmer loans of up to Rs 1 lakh would be waived off for each farmer. The BJP also promised that with a fund of Rs 1.5 lakh crore, every field in Karnataka will be watered. The Congress, on the other hand, has promised to double farmers' income and constitute a statutory Farmers Income Commission. To tide over the agrarian crisis in 2017, the Siddaramaiah Government waived off farmer loans of up to Rs 50, 000 per farmer at an estimated cost of Rs Rs 8,165 crore to the state exchequer. • Pollution: The Congress has promised to reduce incidences of urban flooding and minimise its impact on the people. The Congress said that it will ensure that cities and their surroundings are free from all filth and ensure zero adverse impact of municipal solid waste on the environment and society. The BJP manifesto said that it will set up 24x7 Air Quality Monitoring Stations in urban centers of all city corporations with live updates about the level of pollution being made available on the KSPCB website. Also, it plans to strengthen the state pollution control board to ensure effective functioning and accountability. • Women: The BJP has promised to give free smartphones to women and three-gram gold mangalsutra for all brides in the below poverty line category. The Congress also promised to give three-gram gold to all women belonging to the BPL category. And said that it will give free education to girls at post-graduation level. • Youth, employment: The BJP in its manifesto promised to provide every college-going student with a free laptop. It also offered Government-sponsored foreign education for more than 400 Schedule Tribe students. The Congress promised smartphones to college-going students between age of 18 and 23. According to the Congress manifesto, startups will get a subsidy of about Rs 1 crore to kick-start production. The subsidy will also have a grant component up to Rs 25 lakh and loan up to Rs 75 lakh. • Social schemes: The BJP manifesto claims that more than 300 Annapoorna Canteens would be set up Corpus of Rs 7500 crores would be invested to provide modern amenities to OBCs, and housing schemes for the SC, ST communities. The Congress has promised to set up a separate OBC commission and 75% concession in education admission for OBC studies. The Congress manifesto also talked about POCSO courts being held in child-friendly rooms. • Corruption: The BJP has accused the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka of being the most corrupt party in the nation. Congress said that the BJP is using state machinery to its advantage.

First Published: Sat, May 12 2018. 22:25 IST