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Karnataka sees 72% voter turnout in assembly elections, exit polls predict tight fight between BJP and Congress

A voter turnout of nearly 72 percent was recorded in the Karnataka assembly elections on Wednesday, where the ruling BJP, the embattled Congress and the JD(S), which hopes to be king in the event of a hung assembly, are locked in a stalemate cliffhanger contest.

Several pollsters have predicted that the Congress may have an edge in Karnataka, the BJP’s southern citadel, in a hung assembly, with a few even predicting that the grand old party may win a majority on its own.

However, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai dismissed the polls and declared that his party would win with a clear majority. Counting of votes for the 224-member council will begin on May 13.

“Very peaceful polling in all the 224 assembly constituencies of Karnataka and no recall was recorded in any of the 58,545 polling stations,” the Election Commission (EC) said.

Violence was reported from some areas, including an incident where an election officer was allegedly manhandled by some villagers, according to reports from the districts.

According to the latest figures available at 10 p.m., voter turnout was 71.77 percent. The EC said the final figures would be known by Thursday.

Karnataka saw a voter turnout of 72.36 percent in the 2018 assembly polls that triggered a hung assembly, with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats, falling slightly short of a majority.

A total of 5.31 lakh voters were eligible to cast their vote in 58,545 polling stations across the state where 2,615 candidates are in the fray.

While the BJP, riding on the Modi juggernaut, looks to break a 38-year-old poll record where the state has never elected an incumbent to power, the Congress is hoping for a morale-boosting victory that will give it much-needed elbow room and momentum to take the Lok Sabha polls He placed Sabha as a major opposition player in 2024.

It remains to be seen whether former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular)-led will emerge as a ‘kingmaker’ or a ‘king’ by holding the key to forming the government in the event of a hung verdict. did in the past. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in Punjab and Delhi, has also fielded candidates.

According to the latest election data, Ramanagara in the Old Mysore region recorded the highest turnout of 78.22 percent, while the lowest turnout was from the southern limits of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) (part of Bengaluru city) with 48.63 percent, election officials said.

About the exit poll predictions, Bommai said, “Exit polls are exit polls. They cannot be 100% correct. There will be variations that can change the whole scenario.” Talking to reporters in his home constituency Shiggaon, where he is contesting, he said, “Our ground report says we will win with an absolute majority. Let’s wait till May 13.”

To make people exercise their voting rights, the EC has taken many initiatives such as themed and ethnic polling booths and pink booths run by women only.

Thematic and ethnic polling booths – 737 across the state – added a lot of color to the exercise. The enthusiasm among early voters was palpable. “I am very happy to vote. This is my right,” was a standard refrain among new voters.

According to the EC, it has set up 996 polling stations managed by all women, 239 polling stations managed by persons with disabilities and 286 by youth. Many older voters also came to vote with enthusiasm.

“I have turned 100 years old. I’m happy to vote. Everyone should vote and it can be good for everyone. I have voted for the last 60 years. I have never missed a single election without voting,” said Boramma, a century-old woman from Melagod in Holenarasipur Taulk of Hassan district, who came to the polling booth with a stick for support and holding her son’s hand.

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