Assembly elections

Karnataka elections: Exit polls predict JD(S) as kingmaker after 70% voter turnout

Incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called his BJP opponent ‘mentally disturbed’, and said he was confident of a Congress victory.

Voting for the Assembly elections in Karnataka, the only major state that the Congress governs, took place on Saturday. A 70% voter turnout was recorded in the elections for 222 of the 224 constituencies. Bengaluru’s Rajarajeswari and Jayanagar constituencies will go to the polls later. The state has close to five crore registered voters who will choose from over 2,600 candidates.

Incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyrurappa have both expressed their confidence that they will lead the state.

8.12 pm: The Election Commission says the voter turnout is around 70% and expected to increase, ANI reports. The urban voting percentage remained significantly lower than that of rural areas, says Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha.

7.56 pm: In a press conference, the Election Commission claims to have recovered as much as Rs 94 crore in cash and liquor worth Rs 24.78 crore in the run-up to the elections. The EC also recovered sarees, vehicles, dhotis, utensils and electronic gadgets worth Rs 66 crores. “This is more than eight times the seizures made in last Assembly election,” the EC says.

7.32 pm: Various exit polls have predicted a hung House. Some have forecast a close contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, while others see the BJP ahead – yet not with enough to form government on its own. The Janata Dal (Secular) is set to play kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly.

7.00 pm: The Election Commission said the total voter turnout was 70%, ANI reports.

6.45 pm: The Election Commission says voting has been completed in almost all polling stations, except at few polling stations where voters are still standing in the queue, ANI reports.

6.20 pm: Polling ends in Karnataka. Chief electoral officer for Karnataka, Sanjiv Kumar, will address a press conference at 8 pm.

5.50 pm: A voter turnout of 61.25% was recorded till 5 pm, ANI reports.

5.45 pm: Re-polling will take place on May 14 in Hebbal Assembly constituency’s polling station number 2 as polling was stopped due to an EVM failure, ANI reports.

5.42 pm: There had been messages circulated on messaging platforms that voting time has been extended till 6.30 pm. However, the Election Commission clarifies that polling won’t extend beyond 6 pm. “Polling has been peaceful so far. Voting won’t be extended and will end at 6 pm,” the poll panel says.

5.37 pm: Congress candidate from Holenarasipur constituency BP Manje Gowde alleges that he was attacked by JD(S) workers at Parasanahalli. He says a mob threw stones at his car and his assistant suffered a head injury, The Indian Express reports.

5.30 pm: The Congress party accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday of violating the model election code of conduct by visiting temples during his Nepal trip. However, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale says the dates for the prime minister’s visit to Nepal were decided in February. “No one prime minister alone can say that I will come at this time. So, don’t focus on the dates, but focus on the content of this visit,” Gokhale says.

4.40 pm: The police in Kolar city arrested four persons for allegedly enticing women voters with nose rings, The Hindu reports. In Malur constituency, a man was reportedly seen distributing money to voters coming out of the polling booth.

3.27 pm: JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy appeals to voters to reject offers of money for votes, even if someone from his own party does it. “Everywhere it is going on, not only from my party but all parties, all candidates are distributing money,” he tells Times Now.

3.23 pm: Narendra Modi is going to temples as he is sure he will lose, Siddaramaiah tells NDTV, as he predicts victory for himself in both the seats he is contesting from.

3.16 pm: The voter turnout has reached 56% as of 3 pm, ANI reports.

3.12 pm: Siddaramaiah says income tax raids were ordered against Congress workers and supporters out of desperation because the BJP was sure it would lose the election, PTI reports. He says his party will raise the concern with the Election Commission after the elections and in the Parliament.

3.08 pm: Siddaramaiah now calls BJP President Amit Shah “a comedy show” for the second time in a week, and says that Narendra Modi’s image has “drastically declined”. “His [Modi’s] speeches are completely hollow and have made no impact on the voters of Karnataka,” Siddaramaiah tells ANI. “Therefore we are not worried.”

3.04 pm: Former Union minister and BJP leader SM Krishna casts his vote in Bengaluru, ANI reports.

3.02 pm: A 70-year-old who came to vote died in Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada district, Bangalore Mirror reports.

2.16 pm: Incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah casts his vote in Chamundeshwari, one of the two constituencies from where he is contesting.

2.07 pm: A voter turnout of 37% was recorded till 1 pm, ANI reports.

1.40 pm: Siddaramaiah claims the JD(S) has a tacit tie-up with the BJP, and alleges a JD(S) candidate has distributed money for votes.

1.20 pm: There have been reports of minor clashes between Congress and BJP workers. BJP workers assaulted a Congress worker at Mavinatopu village in Tiptur taluk, while Congress men beat up a BJP corporator in Hampi Nagar.

12.30 pm: Siddaramaiah calls his opponent Yeddyurappa “mentally disturbed”.

12 pm: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa expresses his confidence that his party will win and says he will take oath on May 17. “The BJP will win 145-150 seats”, he says.

11.40 am: Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy also says his party would “cross the magic number on its own”. The JD(S) has refused to openly back either the Congress or BJP for the polls, and is likely to play kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly.

11.15 am: Twenty-four percent voter turnout has been recorded up to 11 am, reports ANI.

10 am: “We are confident. BJP will not win more than 60-70 seats maximum, forget getting 150. They are just dreaming of forming the Government,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge tells ANI.

9.30 am: Up to 9.15 am, a voter turnout of 10.6% was recorded, The News Minute quoted the Election Commission as saying. Karnataka’s chief electoral officer told the news website that early trends suggest the voting percentage will be high.

8.45 am: According to ANI, a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machine at booth number 108 in Hubli is faulty, after which voting has been briefly suspended.

8.40 am: Incumbent Chief Minister Siddaramaiah says the people of Karnataka are queuing up for a “liberal, progressive” state government.

8 am: The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa cast his vote in Shikarpur in Shimoga district, while Union minister and BJP leader Sadananda Gowda cast his vote in Dakshina Kannada district’s Puttur city.

“People are fed up with the Siddaramaiah government,” Yeddyurappa told ANI. “I urge the people to come out and vote for BJP. I assure the people of Karnataka that I am going to give good governance.”

A bitter fight

The Election Commission on Friday postponed polling in Rajarajeswari to May 28 after close to 10,000 voter identity cards were confiscated from a flat in Jalahalli locality of Bengaluru. The election in Jayanagar will be held later as Bharatiya Janata Party MLA BN Vijayakumar died on May 4 while campaigning.

The run up to the elections has been overshadowed by the Jalahalli incident, which triggered a bitter battle between the Congress and the BJP. The Opposition party has accused the ruling Congress of electoral fraud since the visiting cards and stickers of an incumbent Congress MLA were found in the apartment. The Congress has responded by accused the BJP of attempting to discredit it.

The Congress, meanwhile, urged the Election Commission on Friday to disqualify BJP leader B Sriramulu a day after it released two videos that allegedly show him attempting to bribe a relative of former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan for a favourable verdict in an illegal mining case. Sriramulu is contesting the elections against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Badami.

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