The announcement comes amid a high-stakes political battle between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
New Delhi: Karnataka will vote on May 10 to elect a new government and members to its 224-seat assembly, the Election Commission announced on Wednesday. The results will be declared on May 13.
The announcement comes amid a high-stakes political battle between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). The BJP, led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, hopes to retain power in the state, fending off allegations of corruption and communal polarisation. The election will also test the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party’s policies at the national and state level.
Addressing a news conference, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the elections have been scheduled on a Wednesday, and not on a Monday or Friday, to encourage greater participation of voters and discourage them from leaving town for a long weekend holiday.
The last assembly election in Karnataka was held in May 2018, which resulted in a hung assembly. The BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 104 seats but fell short of a majority. The Congress and JD-S formed a post-poll coalition with 80 and 37 seats respectively and formed the government with Mr Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister. However, in July 2019, the coalition collapsed after several MLAs resigned from their parties and joined the BJP.
The BJP has been trying to consolidate its support base among the dominant communities of Lingayats and Vokkaligas, who together account for about 40 per cent of the state’s population. The party has recently increased the reservation for these communities in education and government jobs, scrapping a 4 per cent reservation for Muslims that was introduced by the previous Congress government.
The BJP then formed the government with BS Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister. He resigned in July 2021 and was replaced by Mr Bommai. The Karnataka assembly currently has 121 MLAs of the ruling BJP, while Congress has 70 and its ally JD(S) has 30 seats.
The Congress, on the other hand, has been accusing the BJP of indulging in communal politics and corruption. The party has promised to provide ₹ 3,000 per month to unemployed graduates for two years if it comes to power. The party has also been trying to woo the backward classes, minorities and Dalits, who form a significant chunk of the electorate.
The JD-S has been playing the role of a kingmaker in Karnataka politics. The party has been maintaining an equidistant stance from both the BJP and the Congress, keeping its options open for a post-poll alliance. The party has also been focusing on its core issues of farmers’ welfare and regional development.