Karnataka Assembly Polls: 70.91% turnout, exit polls divided

   Karnataka Assembly Polls: 70.91% turnout, exit polls divided

After a high-voltage campaign that stretched over a month, Karnataka went to the polls on Saturday to elect 222 legislators. A total of 70.91% of the electorate exercised their franchise. The figure is likely to go up as the Election Commission has not released the final figures. The 2013 election saw a turnout of 71.45%.

Various exit polls that came out after polling closed at 6 p.m. predicted a cliffhanger, with the ruling Congress and the BJP running neck-and-neck and the JD(S) in the third place, with the potential to be the king-maker. The run-up to the election saw leaders from across the country — including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi — campaigning extensively.

Voting was held in 222 out of the 224 seats, with polling in two constituencies put off — in Jayanagar due to the death of a candidate and in Rajarajeshwari Nagar due to alleged electoral malpractice. Over 2,622 candidates are in the fray, including 217 women. Counting will take place on May 15. A party must cross the halfway mark of 112 to wrest power.

According to the Election Commission’s latest update, the highest percentage of polling was recorded in Chikkaballapur and Ramanagaram districts, with over 80%, while the constituencies in the neighbouring Bengaluru recorded the lowest, in the range of 49-51%.

This is in keeping with the trend of the relative apathy of urban voters.

The first two hours saw brisk voting, with nearly 24% of the 5.06 crore voters turning up.

Exit polls offer no certainty

The predictions of exit polls on the results of the Karnataka Assembly elections — seen as a pointer to the 2019 General elections — were divided.

70.91% turnout in Karnataka Assembly elections; exit polls divided

While the BJP was predicted as the single largest party in the Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat and ABP-C Voter polls, the Times Now-VMR and India Today-Axis My India polls put the Congress ahead.

The exit poll run by Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat predicted that the BJP would emerge as the single largest party getting 95 to 114 seats while the ABP-C Voter gave the party 97 to 109 seats.

The two polls put the Congress’ tally at between 73 and 82 and 87 and 99 seats respectively, with former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s JD (S) getting 32 to 43 and 21 to 30 seats, respectively.

News X predicted 102-110, 72-78 and 35-39 seats for the BJP, Congress and JD(S), respectively.

India Today predicted the vote share of the Congress and the BJP at 39-% and 35-%, respectively. The respective prediction by Republic TV for the two parties was 36-% and 38.25-%.

VVPAT malfunction

The polling was by and large peaceful across the State barring stray cases of group clashes in five places that left four injured. EVM and VVPAT malfuction were reported from across the State, with the most glaring incident reported from a booth in the Hebbal constituency of Bengaluru that resulted in postponement of polls to Monday.

As polling ended, chief ministerial aspirants of the Congress and the BJP, thanked the people for participating in the election.

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