The voting percentage in the Karnatala assembly elections reached 64.35 percent as of 5 pm, according to the Election Commission, as voters lined up to choose their representatives after a high-stakes campaign that saw the Congress and the BJP deploy their top national leaders, party president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, respectively, in the state.
In the 2013 assembly elections, the voting percentage was 71.45%. Over the last three elections, the voting percentage has averaged 67.1%.
Bengaluru saw the lowest voting percentage with 40%; Ramanagara district’s 64% voter turnout was the highest till 3pm.
The polling which began at 7 am at 58,546 polling stations in 222 seats, will conclude at 6 pm. The Karnataka Legislative assembly has 224 seats but elections in two constituencies, Jayanagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar, both in Bengaluru, have been postponed.
Earlier in the day, a faulty VVPAT machine was replaced in Hubli, which had stalled the voting.
In Jayanagar, polling has been deferred due to the death of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, B N Vijay Kumar, on May 4. In Rajarajeshwari Nagar, voting has been countermanded after fake voter identity cards were found from a flat in Bengaluru’s Jalahalli locality on May 8.
The election in Karnataka is considered crucial for both the BJP and the Congress as many consider it to be a precursor to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, is looking to prevent the BJP from expanding its footprint in the south.
The BJP is bidding to oust the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka and is looking to come back to power in assembly elections with B.S. Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate. Interestingly, no incumbent government has been re-elected in Karnataka since 1985.
The HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular), which many commentator see as gaining from an inconclusive verdict in the Karnataka assembly elections, is looking to establish itself once again in Karnataka politics and is expected to give a tough fight to both the BJP and the Congress.