Bangalore: Counting of votes for the recently held Assembly Elections in Karnataka began this morning amid projections about the Congress' comeback to power after an eight-year-long hiatus. The single phase poll was held on May 5 for 223 of the 224 constituencies with the poll in Periyapatna put off following the death of a BJP candidate.
Counting was taken up on Wednesday morning under tight security at 36 centres and the results are expected to be known by noon, sources in the Election Commission said. Karnataka had recorded the second highest polling of 71.29 per cent in the last 35 years after 71.90 per cent in 1978.
Pre-poll surveys and exit polls have projected that the Congress has a clear edge over the ruling BJP, which fought the polls with its back to the wall battered as it was hit by squabbles and charges of corruption. The exit polls have put the Congress tally in the 224-member House at anywhere between 110 and 132, with the BJP being a distant loser. The question is whether the Congress would reach the magic figure of 113 seats on its own.
The elections were also beset with several imponderables with the presence of Karnataka Janatha Paksha led by former BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa, who had declared his twin intentions of decimating BJP, which he had led in 2008 to its first ever government in the south, and being a kingmaker in the event of a fractured mandate.
BSR Congress of former BJP Minister B Sriramulu is also expected to dent the prospects of BJP to some extent. JDS, which was part of coalition governments with Congress and BJP in 2004 and 2006 respectively, is hoping to stage a comeback. The party headed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, has been projected to get around 40-50 seats, but its leaders claim the party would get majority to rule the state.
The Congress came to power on its own in 1999 when SM Krishna ran the government for a full-five-year term. With a hung Assembly thrown up, the Congress and JDS had formed a coalition in 2004 before it caved in paving the way for BJP-JDS to take over before it, too, collapsed. BJP came to power in 2008 with the support of independents, but the Saffron regime saw three Chief Ministers.