All eyes are now on Karnataka as the stage is set for the counting of votes on Tuesday, three days after elections were held in the state. Polling took place on Saturday in 222 out of 224 assembly constituencies spread across 58,546 polling stations. Elections in two constituencies, Jayanagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar, both in Bengaluru districts were postponed earlier.
In a bid to curb the distribution of cash, liquor and other items to swing electoral process, the Election Commission deployed three flying squads in every constituency, 154 general observers, 136 expenditure observers, 34 police observers, 10,000 micro observers, 3.2 lakh polling personnel and members of the Central police forces in all polling stations.
However, the election-governing body noted that a marginal percentage of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) failures were reported.
A total of 2,654 candidates, including 216 women candidates are in the fray for the election, which is being looked at as a game changer for the Congress ahead of the general elections in 2019, and as a gateway into the South for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Karnataka Assembly has 224 seats and a party or an alliance needs 113-seats to stake a claim form the government. Since the 2014 general election, the Congress has been defeated by the BJP in over a dozen states, drastically shrinking its political footprint.
The BJP is making an all-out bid to oust the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka and is looking to come back to power in the state with B.S. Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate. Interestingly, no incumbent government has been re-elected in Karnataka since 1985.
The H.D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) is looking to establish itself once again in Karnataka politics and is expected to give a tough fight to both the BJP and the Congress. The BJP has fielded 223 candidates, while the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) fielded 222 and 201 candidates respectively.
Mixed predictions by exit polls have further increased curiosity about the results. Some have said the Congress, led by its chief ministerial candidate Siddaramaiah, will emerge as the single largest party, while some have given the single largest party tag to the BJP. Most exit polls have predicted that former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda led-Janata Dal(Secular) will emerge as the be a kingmaker should there will be a hung assembly.
India Today-Axis My India exit poll has predicted that Congress is likely to win 106-118 seats with 39 percent vote share and will be the single-largest party in Karnataka.
India TV-VMR exit poll has predicted hung assembly in Karnataka. It says that the Congress is likely to get 97 seats, the BJP 87, the JD(S)+ 35, others 3 seats.
ABP C-Voter exit poll has predicted 101-113 seats for the BJP, claiming that the saffron party is likely to reach the 'magic figure' of 113 seats. It predicts 82 to 94 seats for the Congress, while the JD(S) and others will get 18-31 seats and 1 to 8 seats respectively.
Republic TV-Jan ki Baat exit poll has said that the BJP is likely to emerge as the single largest party with 95-114 seats. It has given 73-82 seats to the Congress, 32-43 seats to the JD(S) and 2-3 seats to others.
According to Times Now-VMR exit poll, the Congress is likely to be the single largest party with 90-103 seats, the BJP second largest party with 80-93 seats. It said that the JD(S) will win 30-39 seats and others 2-4 seats.
NDTV's exit poll said the BJP will be single largest party with 98 seats, the Congress second largest party with 88 seats, and the JD(S) will be a kingmaker with 33 seats.
NewsX-CNX exit poll has claimed that the BJP is set to be elected as the single largest party in the state, with close to 102-110 seats, followed by the Congress with 72-78 seats and the JDS with 35-39 seats. The Congress won 122 seats and the BJP 40 seats in the last state election in 2013.