A look at the top developments from the Karnataka Assembly elections:
- After a fortnight of high-decibel poll campaigns, voting for the Karnataka Assembly polls was held in 224 constituencies on Wednesday. The polling began at 7 am and ended at 6 pm. The state recorded a voter turnout of 69.95%. The Ramanagaram constituency recorded the highest turnout of 84.98% while Bengaluru North registered the lowest figure of 50.43%. The fate of 2,615 candidates will be decided today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged citizens to cast their votes in order to secure their future.
- The votes will be counted on May 13. The majority mark in the Karnataka Assembly is 113.
- Several exit polls on Wednesday predicted that the Congress would emerge as the single-largest party in the Karnataka Assembly elections with some projecting that it would cross the majority mark. The exit polls also show that in case of a hung Assembly, JD(S) could emerge as the kingmaker.
- Congress MLA Priyank Kharge alleged that the presiding officer at a poll booth in his Chamnur village constituency was influencing people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, due to which polling has been stopped.
- Janata Dal (Secular) HD Kumaraswamy said that his party is expected to take a hit in up to 25 Assembly seats, where it had chances of winning, due to a financial crunch, reported PTI. “What has pained me is that I have not been able to financially support several of my candidates,” Kumaraswamy said.
- The BJP is fighting to retain the only southern state in which it is in power. The Congress is hoping that Karnataka sticks to its tradition since 1985 of voting out the incumbent party in the Assembly polls. The Janata Dal (Secular), headed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, could play a critical role in government formation if neither of the national parties reach the halfway mark on their own.
- In the previous Assembly election held in 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as a single-largest outfit with 104 seats, but fell short of the halfway mark of 111 seats. BJP’s BS Yediyurappa took oath as the chief minister but resigned before a trust vote on May 23. A coalition government led by JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy and supported by the Congress then ruled the state for 14 months. In July 2019, the government collapsed after several MLAs from the two coalition parties switched over to the BJP. Yediyurappa then took oath again as the chief minister but resigned on July 26, 2021. BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai has been the chief minister since July 28, 2021.
- During the campaign for the 2023 elections, the Congress has targeted the Bommai-led government in connection with allegations of corruption, particularly claims by contractors in the state that they have to pay bribes in order to get work cleared. It has promised 200 units of free power to household and Rs 2,000 each to women who head families, among other promises. The BJP has attacked the Congress for its promise of stern action against Hindutva group Bajrang Dal, and claimed that it constitutes an attack on the Hindu deity Hanuman. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed several rallies towards the end of the campaign, which the saffron party hopes would be enough for it to pull through.
- The Congress on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India objecting to Modi’s video appeal to voters in Karnataka seeking their blessings, saying that it was posted after the campaign period ended and thus constituted a violation of the Model Code of Conduct. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala asked the poll panel whether it will remain a “mute and helpless spectator” or fulfil its constitutional duty.