Counting of votes in Karnataka assembly elections to start 8am today
Counting of votes in the Karnataka assembly elections 2018 will begin at 8 am in nearly 40 counting centres and the Election Commission is expected to declare all the results by late evening
May 15, 2018
BENGALURU: The Election Commission will start the counting of votes cast in the Karnataka Assembly elections on Tuesday, the results of which, according to exit polls, are unlikely to deliver a clear majority for the state's ruling Congress and challenger Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Several exit polls have predicted a hung Assembly. Such an outcome would propel former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) into the role of a kingmaker, political commentators say.
In one of the most high-profile and bitterly fought elections in recent times, 222 of the 224 seats in the Karnataka legislative assembly went to the polls on May 12.
Polling for the RR Nagar seat was deferred on account of alleged electoral malpractices, while it was countermanded in the Jayanagar seat following the death of the BJP candidate.
Counting of votes would begin at 8 am in nearly 40 counting centres, Election Commission sources said.
The trends are likely to begin to trickle within an hour and all Karnataka election results are expected to be declared by late evening.
If the results reveal a clear victory for the Congress, the grand old party would have bucked the trend of incumbents being voted out of power since 1985, when the erstwhile Janata Dal formed the government under Ramakrishna Hegde for a second consecutive term.
It is, however, unclear if Siddaramaiah, a backward class leader with a formidable reputation, will be the next chief minister in the event of a Congress victory.
Though the Congress had said he would be its face in the elections, it stopped short of declaring him the party's chief ministerial candidate.
Siddaramaiah caused a political flutter when he said on Monday that he was ready to make way for a Dalit chief minister if the Congress high command so decided, a statement many felt was aimed at keeping the JD(S) in good humour so as to stitch an alliance in case of a fractured mandate.
Siddaramaiah is a former JD(S) man and his ties with Deve Gowda's party continue to be strained.
"I am confident that the Congress would win the elections with a majority and I would be the CM," Siddaramaiah had told journalists earlier.
However, when asked on Sunday if he was ready to make way for a Dalit leader as chief minister, he said,"I have no objection. I am not against anybody but the decision has to be left to the high command." He, however, said the high command would also consider the views of the winning candidates before deciding the next chief minister.
Since the Congress had not declared its chief ministerial candidate, Dalit veterans in the party like its leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and state Congress chief G Parameshwara are being seen as possible alternatives. Kharge had recently told PTI he was ready to take up any role assigned to him by the party.
A victory in Karnataka would help boost the sagging morale of the Congress, which has lost power in several states since Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre.
A victory for the BJP, on the other hand, will bolster Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reputation for delivering election victories for the party across the country.
It would also further galvanise the BJP cadre before the Assembly elections in party-ruled Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year.
The JD(S) has also claimed it would win a majority and that its chief ministerial candidate H D Kumaraswamy will be the "king" and not the "kingmaker".
With the JD(S) having had partnered with both BJP and Congress in the past, it would be tough to predict which way it will go this time in the event of a hung House.