New Delhi: Various exit polls have predicted a Congress comeback in Karnataka on its own steam after over two decades. CNN-IBN predicted that the Congress would bag 110-116 seats in the 224 member Karnataka Assembly while the ruling BJP may end up with around 50 seats.
Other exit polls like Times Now put the Congress at 132 and the BJP at around 40, down from 110 from previous elections.
But exit polls have shown that the Congress has not substantially increased its vote percentage, suggesting that it was former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was booted out by the saffron party, torpedoed the prospects of the BJP.
H.D. Deve Gowda-led JD(S) is also likely to get 43 to 53 seats, as per prediction revised by the channel following change in several political factors, including faulty choice of candidates by Congress and infighting in it. Others are likely to get 16-24 seats.
In the current Assembly, BJP has 110 MLAs - three short of majority - and rules the state with help of five Independent MLAs who were inducted into the Ministry. Congress has 80 seats and JD(S) 28.
Earlier, CNN-IBN and The Week had conducted a pre-poll survey on Karnataka in the second week of April and projected that Congress is likely to get 117-129 seats, BJP 39-49, JD(S) 34-44 and others 14-22.
A statement said CNN-IBN revised the projection taking into account various factors like faulty choice of candidates by Congress leading to unhappiness within the party and open and subtle opposition to the official nominee and infighting between prominent leaders of Congress.
The channel also took note of the "absence of a well- orchestrated and coordinated campaign, consolidation of Vokkaliga vote behind the JD(S) in southern Karnataka and Bangalore rural, split in Lingayat vote between BJP and KJP in northern Karnataka, resulting in an advantage for Congress."
It also said there was a strong impact of double anti-incumbency against BJP - against government and against individual MLAs, many of whom have completed 2 or 3 terms, in coastal Karnataka that has worked to the advantage of Congress.
69% voter turnout in Karnataka polls
An estimated 69 per cent of the 4.35 crore-strong electorate voted in the Assembly elections in Karnataka on Sunday.
The 7 AM-to-6 PM polling began on a brisk note but appeared to lose steam as the mercury soared before picking up momentum again in the last hours in 223 seats in the 224- member House for which a total of 2,940 candidates were in the fray. Election in Periyapatna in Mysore district has been put off to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate.
Briefing reporters, Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said a turn out of 63.09 per cent was reported till 5 PM. "Going by the trend we saw in the evening hours, we are estimating it should reach 69 per cent."
Counting of votes will be taken up on May 8.
Prominent candidates included Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee G Parameshwara, former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and JDS state unit President H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements with 1.35 lakh police personnel on duty in some 52,000 polling booths where about 65,000 electronic voting machines had been installed.
Barring sporadic incidents, including one at Bellary, the voting was largely peaceful. None of the incidents was of such a nature that called for repolling, Jha said.
Breakaway parties - Karnataka Janatha Paksha of Yeddyurappa and BSR Congress formed by former Minister B. Sriramulu - are projected to dent the prospects of BJP, already battered by intra-party fights and allegations of corruption.
Jha said two officials on poll duty died at Honnavar in Uttara Kannada district and in Tumkur district. Sectoral Officer M.C. Mahendra died before poll in Honnavar early on Sunday and Thimmaiah, who was the Presiding Officer, passed away following suspected cardiac arrest in a booth in Madhugiri taluk.
A Haveri report said Leelavathi Mekki, a 28-year-old teacher, who reported for poll duty on Saturday at Negalur in Haveri district complained of chest pain and died on Sunday in neighbouring Davangere, where she was shifted.
Pre-poll surveys have predicted that Congress is all set to emerge as the single largest party or be at a striking distance of coming to power in the elections. The strength of BJP, which won 110 seats in the 2008 elections, is forecast to come down by more than half, and that of JDS to improve by a dozen seats compared to 28 the last time around.
Police have arrested four persons who were openly wielding swords in the district headquarters town of Kolar, adding that a major clash was averted between supporters of an independent and a political party. At Sidlagatta in Chikkaballapura district, one person was injured seriously by supporters of another party.
In a Bellary booth, a voter was allegedly hit by a policeman over a trivial issue and sustained injuries in the ear. In the 2008 elections to the total of 224 seats, BJP, with 33.86 per cent of the votes polled, secured 110 seats, followed by Congress (34.59) with 80 seats and JDS (19.13) with 28 seats.
While the overall voter turnout was 64.91 per cent in the 2008 elections, the average in the 28 segments of Bengaluru was a low 47.3 per cent. The lowest in Bengaluru was in Sarvajnanagar at 35.40 per cent. Polling in Bangalore Urban areas was 52 per cent "or so" till 5 PM today which, Jha noted, was better than the 2008 figure.