New Delhi: Karnataka will vote for a new Assembly in single phase on May 5 and the counting for the 224-member House will take place on May 8. Announcing the schedule for one of the most anticipated state elections, Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath said that a total of 50,446 polling stations will be put up for the 4.18 crore voters in the state.
Sampath said that the Election Commission (EC) will closely monitor the ground situation to ensure smooth polls. "Paid news will be closely monitored by the CEC and websites and call centres will receive complaints on violation of poll code," said Sampath.
The issue of notification will be on April 10, the last day of nomination is April 17, scrutiny of nomination will take place on April 18 and the last day for withdrawing nomination is April 20.
Buoyed by its good show in Karnataka urban body elections, the Congress will be hoping to come back to power in the state. The party dealt a massive blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by relegating the ruling party to a distant second place. The Congress won three out of seven major city corporations including Bellary, Mangalore and Davanagere; and emerged the single largest party in Mysore and Gulbarga.
The Congress also routed BS Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) and ended the rule of Reddy brothers in Bellary by decimating their BSR Congress across central Karnataka. The BJP was not able to gain majority in any of the seven major city corporations and emerged as the single largest party in only Hubli-Dharwad. JDS come second in Mysore and Belgaum went to Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES). This will be the first big state to vote since Rahul Gandhi's elevation in the Congress as party Vice President.
Karnataka Assembly has a strength of 224 members and the halfway mark is 113. Out of the 224 seats, the general category seats are 173, Scheduled Castes seats are 36 and Scheduled Tribe seats 15 while there is one nominated member from the Anglo-Indian community. Term of Karnataka Assembly ends on June 3.
The three main regions of the state are Old Mysore (the largest region with a little over 50 per cent of seats), Mumbai-Karnataka (comprising coastal district of Uttara Kannada) and Hyderbad-Karnataka (comprising Bellary). Dakshina Kannada (Mangalore) and Udupi, the two coastal districts, are not a part of any region.
The old Mysore region has 116 seats and consists of state capital Bangalore and districts like Mysore, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Davanagere, Tumkur and Kolar. The region has 14 districts - Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Kolar, Chikballapur, Mandya, Mysore, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar.
The are 28 seats in Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits and eight seats in suburban areas while the rest of old Mysore are has 80.
The region has been a stronghold of the Congress while Janata Dal Secular of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda is strong in southern parts of the region. The BJP made significant gains during the 2008 elections. Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) chief and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa is also a major player in the northern parts of the region and triangular fight is expected in many parts. The region is crucial for the Congress to return to power.
Vokkaligas whose population is 13 per cent of the total population in state dominate the region except three districts.
The Mumbai-Karnataka region has seven disticts - Dharward, Uttara Kannada, Haveri, Gadag, Bijapur, Bagalkote and Belgaum - and 55 Assembly seats. The region is a stronghold of the BJP while the Congress is also strong in certain areas. Yeddyurappa also has a considerable influence among the Lingayat community, who dominated the region.
A direct fight between the BJP and Congress is expected in most parts. Yaddyurappa's KJP might eat into BJP votes and JDS might cut into Congress votes in some seats.
The Hyderabad-Karnataka region has six districts - Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Bellary - and 40 Assembly seats. This region will see a direct fight expected between the BJP and Congress, both of whom are strong in the region. The JDS and KJP are marginal players.
Although the region is Lingayat dominated, it also has a huge population of Muslims, SCs/STs and OBCs.
The two coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have 13 seats and will see a direct fight between the Congress and BJP. It is the most prosperous and educated region but also communally very sensitive.