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BJP, Congress hopeful of victory in Karnataka polls; JDS likely to be kingmaker

A record 72.36 percent of the 5.07 crore electorate cast their votes in the Karnataka Assembly elections 2018.

BJP, Congress hopeful of victory in Karnataka polls; JDS likely to be kingmaker
People voting in Bengaluru on May 12, 2018 (Pic courtesy: Reuters)

Karnataka will get a new government on Tuesday after the results for 222 seats for which voting took place on May 12 are declared which will reveal the constitution of the new Assembly. The three major rivals - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal Secular - have been claiming that they will win the Karnataka Assembly elections but the voters' preference will be known only after the EVMs are opened on May 15.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is facing a tough battle to ensure Congress returns to power. Even history is against him as no party has been able to win two consecutive Karnataka Assembly elections since the Janata Dal's victory in 1983 and 1985. Siddaramaiah on Sunday sounded confident of Congress retaining power and added that this was his last election. He is contesting from two seats - Chamundeshwari and Badami.

He also ruled out that Congress was exploring a post-poll alliance with the former prime minister HD Deve Gowda-led JDS. The Congress has been facing a string of electoral routs over the last few years with the only exception being Punjab Assembly elections 2017 and apart a win in Karnataka will come as a shot in the arm for the Grand Old Party.

The high-voltage campaign by the BJP leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the party hopes of returning to power for the second time in the state. BJP's chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa and party's national president Amit Shah have claimed that their party will secure a majority on its own in Karnataka Assembly. Yeddyurappa predicted that BJP will win 130 seats and the Congress would be relegated to a distant second with just 70 while the JDS would bag 25 seats.

The campaigning for Karnataka Assembly elections was highly acerbic with all the parties guilty of stooping too low and hitting below the belt. On May 12 voting took place for 222 seats as the election was countermanded in Jayanagar constituency after the sitting BJP MLA BN Vijayakumar died of a heart attack during campaigning while it was deferred in Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat to May 28 after almost 10,000 fake voter cards were recovered from a flat in the area. The result of  Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat will be declared on May 31.

A total of 2,655 candidates are in the fray for the 224 seats in Karnataka Assembly. Among the candidates are four sitting and former chief ministers - the current CM Siddaramaiah, former BJP chief ministers BS Yeddyurappa and Jagdish Shettar, and JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy. There are 219 women, too, among the aspirants. While the BJP is contesting in all 224 seats, the Congress put up candidates in 222 and the JDS in 201 seats.

According to the state Chief Electoral Officer Sanjeev Kumar 72.13 percent voters came out to exercise their franchise which is the highest in the Karnataka Assembly elections since the 1952 state polls.

Exit polls have forecast a hung Assembly with almost all of them predicting a close contest between the ruling Congress and its main rival the BJP with JDS expected to play the role of a kingmaker if no party manages to secure a majority on its own. At present, the majority mark is 112 as results will be declared for only 222 seats. While Karnataka Assembly has 225 seats, voting takes place for 224 constituencies as one is a nominated member from the Anglo-Indian community.