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Will Siddaramaiah Create History or BJP Get its Gateway to South? Karnataka Decides Today

The ruling Congress and the BJP are the main contenders for power, while former prime minister H D Deve Gowda's JD(S) is likely to play the kingmaker, according to most surveys and opinion polls.

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Updated:May 12, 2018, 12:01 AM IST
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Will Siddaramaiah Create History or BJP Get its Gateway to South? Karnataka Decides Today
Illustration by Mir Suhail.
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Bengaluru: After weeks of a high-pitched and vitriolic campaign, described by many as never seen before, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP and Siddaramaiah and Rahul Gandhi-led Congress engage in one bout after another, voters in Karnataka will choose their new government on Saturday.

The ruling Congress and the BJP are the main contenders for power, while former prime minister H D Deve Gowda's JD(S) is likely to play the kingmaker, according to most surveys and opinion polls.

For Congress, which most opinion polls predict would emerge as the single largest party, history beckons. In Karnataka, no one has won a second successive term in office since 1985 when the Janata Dal under Ramakrishna Hegde had retained power.

Seen as a precursor to elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year, it is also a battle for Congress to retain the only large state under its rule other than Punjab.

Siddaramaiah himself admits that history is against him. In a tweet, he said, “People of Karnataka will answer that question on May 12. And they will do so decisively. I am often told history is against us as no sitting government in Karnataka has been re-elected in a long time. But we are here to create history and not to obey it”.

The BJP, on the other hand, is striving to form a government in Karnataka, which party president Amit Shah said will be its "gateway to south", for a second time. 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 BS Yeddyurappa was in jail over corruption charges. Though the BJP launched its campaign, calling it
"mission 150 (seats)", Amit 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.

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.

Four current and former chief ministers are also in the fray, including Siddramaiah, who is contesting from Badami and Chamundeshwari, Yeddyurappa from Shikaripura, Kumaraswamy (Chennapatna and Ramanagara), and BJP's Jagdish Shettar from Hubbali-Dharwad.

There are more than 4.96 crore voters who are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives from a field of little over 2,600 candidates. Men account for over 2.52 crore voters, women around 2.44 crore, while there are 4,552 transgender electors.

Election office sources said over 55,600 polling stations have been set up, and there would be some auxiliary booths too. Over 3.5 lakh personnel will be on duty to ensure a free and fair poll.

It is for the first time that people would be able know about the queue status at polling stations with large number of voters through a mobile app, sources said.

Polling will be held in 222 constituencies of the 224-member Assembly as election has been countermanded in Jayanagara following the death of BJP candidate and sitting MLA BN Vijaykumar. Polling in RR Nagar in Bengaluru has been deferred after a huge cache of voter ID cards were recovered from a flat.

The Congress party had won 122 seats in the 2013 elections, ten more than the halfway mark. It also had the support of some independent MLAs and those of smaller parties.

The BJP and JD(S) had 40 seats each, Karnataka Jantha Paksha 6, Badavara Shramikara Raitra 4, Karnataka Makkala Paksha, Samajwadi Party, Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha (one each) and Independents 9.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 15 and results will be declared the same day.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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