Bengaluru : Polling for the Karnataka Assembly ended at 6 pm on Wednesday and the overall voter turnout till 5 pm was recorded at 65.69 percent, informed the Election Commission (EC).
Exit polls from several media houses have predicted a hung assembly but with many giving an edge to the opposition Congress while a few predicted a BJP win. The magic figure required for any party to form a simple majority government is 113.
If the exit polls are to be believed, the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD (S) is going to play a key role in the formation of the next state government in Karnataka.
With just an hour left for voting to close for the polls to the 224-member Assembly, Ramanagara recorded the highest turnout of 78.22 per cent, while the lowest polling was from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) South limits (parts of Bengaluru city) at 48.63 per cent, election officials said.
The state is mainly witnessing a three-cornered contest between the ruling BJP, the Congress and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular).
A total of 5.31 crore electors are eligible to cast their vote in 58,545 polling stations across the state, where 2,615 candidates are in the fray.
Prominent among those who voted today include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and former Chief Ministers B S Yediyurappa and D V Sadananda Gowda (both BJP) and Siddaramaiah and Jagadish Shettar (both Congress) and IT industry veteran N R Narayana Murthy and wife Sudha Murty.
Karnataka recorded a voter turnout of 72.36 per cent in the 2018 Assembly polls.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is seeking re-election from Shiggaon in Haveri district for a fourth consecutive term, said he would win with a record margin. “So is the BJP,” he added, “which is going to win with a record number of seats.”
Bommai said the party would get a “comfortable majority”.
First-time voters and the elderly stole the show as they were seen participating in the voting process enthusiastically in many segments.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier on Wednesday urged the people of Karnataka to vote in large numbers and enrich the “festival of democracy”.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi too appealed to the people of Karnataka to vote in large numbers to build a progressive and a “40-per-cent-commission-free” state.
Meanwhile, violence was reported in some areas. Villagers of Masabinal in Vijayapura district stopped a poll duty vehicle carrying electronic voting machines (EVMs), manhandled an officer and damaged some control and ballot units on Wednesday, following which 23 persons were arrested, the Election Commission said.
The villagers stopped a sector officer’s vehicle, which was carrying reserved EVMs, and damaged two control and ballot units each and three VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines, the EC said in a statement.
“A sector officer was manhandled, 23 people arrested,” the EC said, adding that top district officials rushed to the village, which comes under Basavana Bagewadi Assembly segment.
Police sources said the villagers’ “action” came after “rumours” that officials were “changing” the EVMs and VVPATs.
Meanwhile, in Padmanabhanagar constituency here, some youth armed with sticks attacked their political rivals in a polling booth at Papaiah Garden. They went on a rampage in which a few women standing in queue to vote were injured, the sources said.
In another incident at Sanjeevarayanakote in Ballari district, some Congress and BJP workers came to blows.