ECI to announce Karnataka poll schedule at 11:30am
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to retain power in Karnataka, where it emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats in the May 2018 assembly elections
The Election Commission of India (ECI) will announce the schedule for the Karnataka assembly polls at 11:30am on Wednesday weeks after the first phase of the 2023 state elections season concluded with the formation of governments in Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
In 2018, the assembly elections in Karnataka were held on May 12 and the results were declared three days later.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to retain power in the state where it emerged as the single-largest party with 104 seats in 2018. It fell nine seats short of a simple majority in the 224-member assembly, where one additional member is nominated.
The Congress, which won 78 seats and two more later in by-polls, and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD (S) with 37 seats allied to keep the BJP out of power.
The alliance government fell after it lost the trust vote in the assembly in June 2020. A string of resignations by lawmakers of the Congress and JD (S) reduced the 15-month-old coalition between two erstwhile rivals to a minority and paved the return of the BJP to power.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people of Karnataka to ensure the BJP gets a full majority in the assembly as he addressed at a rally to mark the culmination of the party’s statewide “Vijay Sankalpa Yatra” ahead of the polls.
The yatra began earlier this month at four separate places and covered all 224 assembly segments.
The BJP has been facing factionalism in Karnataka where former chief minister B S Yediyurappa was forced to call off the yatra in Chikkamagaluru following protests.
BJP national general secretary C T Ravi’s comments that the candidates for the assembly polls will not be nominated in anyone’s “kitchen” in response to Yediyurappa’s statement that his son would contest highlighted the rumblings of discontent within the party.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has been named as BJP’s campaign committee chief while his predecessor Yediyurappa too has been involved in electioneering two years after he was removed from the state’s top post.
Ahead of the polls, Karnataka has also been in the news over polarising issues such as a ban on hijab and corruption scandals.
The Congress, which too faces factionalism, on Saturday announced its first list of candidates for the Karnataka assembly elections. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah has been fielded from Varuna in Mysuru and his rival and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar from Kanakapura.
The Aam Aadmi Party also released its first list of 80 candidates as the party has sought to make inroads into other states after forming the government in Punjab last year.
The BJP returned to power in March in Tripura and in alliance with regional parties in Nagaland and Meghalaya.
The elections in the three northeastern states marked the beginning of a packed assembly election schedule in 2023. Five states other than Karnataka are due to go to the polls this year. Elections are also likely to be held in Jammu & Kashmir.
The elections are expected to set the tone for the 2024 national polls.