Poll fever catching up in Karnataka ahead of Assembly election

Political activities in Karnataka,where polls to 224 assembly seats are due in May, have started gathering momentum as parties have embarked on the exercises to finalise their candidates.

Congress is hoping for a revival in the BJP-ruled state and has given a drubbing to BJP in the recently concluded polls to urban local bodies. Yesterday, Congress announced names of Karnataka polls screening committee members and named senior party leader Luizinho Falerio as the Chairman of the Committee.

Karnataka is the first big state to go to the polls after elevation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress Vice-President, party sources pointed out. BJP and JDS of former prime minister of H D Deve Gowda are yet to short-list their candidates.

BJP, which is already in a disarray after former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa parted ways from it and formed a separate party, is likely to get a new party chief in the state shortly, party sources said.

K S Eshwarappa resigned from the post earlier this month. Meanwhile, a section of state BJP leaders has told the party's Karnataka leadership to make efforts to bring Yeddyurappa and former minister B Sriramulu, who had formed Karnataka Janatha Party and BSR Congress respectively, back into its fold.

Rajya Sabha member and an influential leader of Belgaum, Prabhakar Kore, has confirmed he did make the suggestion.

Yeddyurappa has been strident in criticism against BJP, and his KJP bagged 274 seats, out of the nearly 5,000 in ULB polls, damaging the prospects of the BJP in no small measure at many places, and has repeatedly ruled out returning to his erstwhile party.

The political heavyweight has indicated that he would cobble together a 'united front' by roping in farmers' organisations and pro-Kannada outfits as an alternative to the Congress, BJP and JDS in the coming poll.

All eyes are also on Ministers Basavaraj Bommai, Murugesh Nirani and Umesh Katti, who are reportedly contemplating joining the Yeddyurappa camp, particularly after the BJP's none-too-impressive show in the ULB polls.

The Election Commission interacted with state officials and senior police officers earlier this month on the preparedness to hold the polls. The EC is expected to formally announce the poll schedule within the next few days.

Indications are that the election would be held in the first half of May in single phase.

In 2008, the Assembly elections were held in three phases on May 10, May 16 and May 22, with the counting taken up on May 25.

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