Exit polls predict tough fight

NEW DELHI, May 12:  Indicating a tight race between the BJP and the Congress, most exit polls for the Karnataka Assembly elections today forecast a hung assembly with the JD(S) likely to play the kingmaker, but were divided on which of the two national parties will emerge as the largest in the House.
The exit polls run by Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat and ABP-C Voter predicted that the BJP will emerge as the largest party by getting 95-114 and 97-109 seats respectively.
They put the Congress’ tally at 73-82 and 87-99 respectively with the former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda-led JD (S) predicted to get 32-43 and 21-30 seats.
Voting for 222 of the 224 assembly seats in the State was held today. Any party will need the support of 113 MLAs to form a new Government.
However, Times Now-VMR and India Today-Axis My India said the ruling Congress in the state will emerge as the largest party,  forecasting 90-103 and 106-118 seats for the party. They predicted 80-93 and 79-82 seats for the BJP respectively.
If the India Today exit poll said that the Congress may get a majority, the Republic TV predicted that the saffron party may cross the half way mark.
Times Now put the likely tally of the JD(S) at 31-39 while India Today put its figure at 22-30.
News X predicted 102-110, 72-78 and 35-39 seats for the BJP, Congress and JD(S) respectively.
India Today predicted the vote share of the Congress and the BJP at 39 per cent and 35 per cent respectively. The respective prediction by Republic TV for the two parties was 36 and 38.25 per cent.
The channels were, however, revising the figures as more data was pouring in this evening.
The Congress had won 122 seats last time following a split in the BJP, which was reduced to 40 seats while the JD(S) also got 40 seats.
Both the BJP and the Congress ran a spirited campaign in the State with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the saffron charge with 21 rallies, while Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah led the Congress’ bid to ensure that it defies anti-incumbency to retain power. The BJP has declared B S Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate.
Meanwhile, an estimated 70 per cent of the over 4.96 crore voters exercised their franchise to choose a new Karnataka Assembly in one of the most high-profile and bitterly fought elections in the recent times.
The count is likely to go up with electors standing in queues to cast their votes beyond the 6 pm deadline for the polling to conclude, the State election office said.
Under election rules, voters who join the queue before the expiry of the deadline, are allowed to exercise their franchise.
A voter turnout of 71.4 per cent was recorded in the previous Assembly elections in 2013.
Polling was held for 222 of the State’s 224 constituencies following the countermanding of election for the Jayanagara seat due to the death of BJP candidate B N Vijaykumar, and deferment of voting for R R Nagar seat over allegations of electoral malpractices.
Over 2,600 candidates are in the fray, including four sitting and former chief ministers—incumbent Siddaramaiah, former BJP chief ministers B S Yeddyurappa and Jagdish Shettar, and H D Kumaraswamy of the JD(S).
There were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs from some polling stations, and minor clashes between Congress and BJP supporters. The two parties also accused each other of inducing voters. (PTI)