Battleground Karnataka: state to go to polls on May 12, counting on May 15

Notification on April 17; code of conduct kicks in

The Assembly elections in Karnataka will be held on May 12 and votes will be counted on May 15, the Election Commission announced on Tuesday.

At a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said the EC will issue the notification for the elections on April 17, but the model code of conduct came into effect immediately after the announcement of the poll schedule. Altogether 4,96,82,357 voters are expected to exercise their franchise and the commission will set up 56,696 polling stations across the state, said Rawat.

The CEC, who was joined by Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa, at a press conference, said that all the 224 Assembly constituencies, including 36 reserved for Scheduled Castes and 15 for Scheduled Tribes, would go to polls together on May 12. He said that all the political parties in the state had sought single-phase polling during their consultations with the EC.

The Assembly elections in Karnataka are going to be crucial for both the Congress and the BJP ahead of the 2019 parliamentary elections. The BJP, which leads the government at the Centre, is keen to wrest power from the Congress in Karnataka - one of the three states where Rahul Gandhi's party is still in power.

Retaining power in Karnataka is crucial for the Congress to project itself as a serious challenger to the BJP, not only in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh but also in the Lok Sabha elections next year. A victory in Karnataka will reverse the slide for the BJP, which suffered losses in some byelections in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The BJP is also keen to win Karnataka to dispel the perception that its electoral performance has already peaked after a series of victories, the latest being Tripura.

The Janata Dal (Secular), which has been out of power for 10 years, tied up with the Bahujan Samaj Party ahead of the forthcoming elections, as it hopes to have enough seats in the state Assembly to play an important role after the elections.

The CEC on Tuesday said that April 24 would be the last date for filing nominations and April 27 would be the last date for withdrawal of the same. The nominations would be scrutinised on April 25.

The votes will be counted on May 15 and the results are expected on the same day.

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