AICC President Rahul Gandhi waves at his supporters during a road show ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)

Karnataka Elections: All You Need To Know Going Into Polling Day

After an aggressive campaign that spanned more than three months, Karnataka will today vote to elect a new assembly in a three-cornered contest. The ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are the main contenders, while former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) is also in the fray.

There are more than 4.96 crore voters who are eligible to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives from a field of little over 2,600 candidates. Men account for over 2.52 crore voters, women around 2.44 crore, while there are 4,552 transgender electors.

More than 55,600 polling stations have been set up besides some auxiliary booths, wire agency PTI reported. Over 3.5 lakh personnel will be on duty to ensure a free and fair polls, the report said.

Here is all you need to know going into polling day.

The Key Issues

The election campaign did not throw up a single dominant issue. But a key theme that all three parties put on centrestage is the issue of ‘Kannada Pride’. First floated by incumbent Chief Minister Sidaramaiah, it is seen as a counter to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s nationalism pitch.

With 2,729 farmers having committed suicide in in the state between 2014 and 2016, election manifestos of both the BJP and the Congress focused on the farming community.

Read the top five issues that will matter in this assembly election here.

Chief Minister Sidaramaiah unveils the Karnataka flag. (Source: Twitter/INC).
Chief Minister Sidaramaiah unveils the Karnataka flag. (Source: Twitter/INC).

The Key Numbers

The three-way battle in the state is a race to get to a majority of 113 in the 224-member assembly. All three parties have been in power for the last over 15 years, either in alliance with each other or on their own.

As data pours from individual constituencies across Karnataka when votes are counted on May 15, here’s what to expect from the different regions of the state.

BJP National President Amit Shah campaigns in support of party candidate Katta Subramanya Naidu contesting from Shivajinagar constituency during a road show ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)
BJP National President Amit Shah campaigns in support of party candidate Katta Subramanya Naidu contesting from Shivajinagar constituency during a road show ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)

The Key Contests

The election will also be a clash of personalities.

Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeswari, Mysuru in south Karnataka and Badami, Bagalkot in the north, hoping to become the first Karnataka chief minister to beat anti-incumbency. He has won five time from this constituency.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, is contesting from his home turf of Shikaripura in Shivamogga district—a seat he has won seven times. The Congress has fielded a relatively unknown candidate, GB Malathesh from this constituency. And so, the former chief minister is expected to win.

Here are the top five individual battles to watch out for.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa during Karnataka election campaign rally at Chamarajanagar. (Source: PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa during Karnataka election campaign rally at Chamarajanagar. (Source: PTI)

Can Siddaramaiah Break A 30-Year Trend?

While opinion polls conducted in Karnataka over the last few weeks indicate a lead for the incumbent chief minister in the coming elections, he’s up against a 30-year history that Karnataka shares with Kerala – of not giving a government a second full mandate. Power in Karnataka has been a see-saw that’s swung every 4-5 years. 1985 is the last time a party in the state won a majority for the second election in a row.

Read more here.

(Source: PTI)
(Source: PTI)

What Bengaluru Voters Want

With 28 out of 224 seats, Karnataka’s capital city may not make or break this election, but its infrastructure and other woes could make it difficult for the incumbent Congress government to convince voters that enough has been done.

Often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, Karnataka accounts for 60 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and 60 percent of its taxes, but “politically, Bengaluru has never mattered” to successive state governments, chief of Bengaluru-based Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, told BloombergQuint.

Here’s how business leaders, activists and citizens of Bengaluru have assessed previous state governments and what they expect from the party that comes to power next.

A pedestrian walks past election campaign posters for the Janata Dal (Secular) Party in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)
A pedestrian walks past election campaign posters for the Janata Dal (Secular) Party in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Macro Indicators: Karnataka Vs Peers

Karnataka ’s economy has become as big as oil-rich Qatar, riding on the growth of software services. At 10 percent, it’s the third-highest contributor to India’s gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion after Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The Congress has been busy flaunting the ‘Karnataka Model’ of governance as an alternative to Modi’s ‘Gujarat Model’ to woo voters. The BJP focused on corruption that it claims is prevalent widely in the state.

So where does Karnataka’s economy stand? Here’s a comparison of its economic indicators with that of other large states—Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in a helicopter as BJP supporters cheer during a public rally ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in a helicopter as BJP supporters cheer during a public rally ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)

Social Indicators: How Karnataka Fares

Karnataka is among the fastest growing states in India. But has its economic expansion translated into a better life for its people?

When pegged against other large Indian states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Kerala – Karnataka still lags behind on some socio-economic indicators, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint.

Here’s the story in charts.

AICC President Rahul Gandhi greets the workers at a garment factory during an interactive session ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)
AICC President Rahul Gandhi greets the workers at a garment factory during an interactive session ahead of the Karnataka Assembly election in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI)

Implications For 2019 General Elections

The southern state is one of the last remaining bastions for the Congress. While the rest of the country has been slowly swept away by the saffron wave, Karnataka also remains important for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP. The results will be an early indicator of the people’s sentiment ahead of the general election next year.

Read more here.