Karnataka Polls: Counting of votes begins

Bangalore, May 7 (ANI): Counting of votes for the Karnataka Assembly elections, which witnessed a 70.23 per cent voter turnout on May 5, began this morning at 8 a.m. amidst tight security.

The results of the vote count will decide who will occupy each of the 223 seats up for grabs in the state assembly.

All district administrations have made necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth counting of votes, as most of the final results of which are expected around noon today. The final tally will be announced this evening.

The ruling BJP, the Congress and the regional Janata Dal-Secular, which is led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, and the KJP led by Yeddyurappa, are the key players in the elections.

A total of 2,940 candidates are in the fray for the polls, with 170 of them being women. The Congress is contesting all the 223 constituencies, while the BJP is contesting 222 seats candidates. The Janata Dal-Secular has fielded 221 candidates, while Independents numbered 1223.

In each of the counting centres, 14 tables have been arranged to count votes cast in each constituency. It will be managed by counting officials, supervisors, assistants and micro observers.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been issued around the counting centres till midnight. The ban on sale of liquor will also continue till midnight.

Prominent among them are Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Congress leader Siddaramiah, former Chief Minister B.S Yeddyurappa, KPCC president G. Parameshwara, Deputy Chief Ministers K.S. Eswarappa and R. Ashoka.

For the Congress, it is a day of high anxiety, when a possible triumph for the party in Karnataka could be offset by a possible embarrassment in the Supreme Court which will be hearing the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI's) fresh affidavit on the coal block allocation case.

Congress leaders are hoping to get some respite from the apex court and a Karnataka win, which would help the party give a positive political spin to their strategy for the 2014 general elections.

The internal assessment of the Congress is that a comfortable poll win in Karnataka will deflate a resurgent BJP.

There is a view in Congress circles that they will advertise the BJP's defeat as the electorate's punishment for rampant graft under the stewardship of ex-BJP leader Yeddyurappa.

From the BJP's point of view, a loss would force it rejig political strategy and probably move away from its single point agenda of highlighting the graft of the Congress.

However, S. Prakash, spokesman of the Karnataka unit of the BJP, said: "We are confident that we will emerge victorious. We have undertaken the steps. The people of Karnataka would not let us down. Predicting the seats will be not right on my part. It is too early to say."

Janata Dal-Secular general secretary Danish Ali said he believed the people would give a good mandate in the interest of Karnataka.

"I think we would not need to look at others. If some situation arises, then we would like a secular government to be formed. The party will decide in favour of Karnataka," Ali added.

"We hope the people of Karnataka would give full mandate in favour of Mr. H.D. Kumaraswamy to form the government," he said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs is meeting in New Delhi this evening to discuss the possible proroguing of Parliament sine die two days ahead of schedule, besides other issues.

The Election Commission has installed the web casting devices, in 1,500 polling stations, so that people across the globe could directly see the polls and the vote count using the internet.

Elections in Periyapatna has been postponed till May 28 following the death of BJP candidate.

In the 2008 elections, BJP secured 110 seats, three short of majority and formed the government with the help of five independents who were made ministers. Congress bagged 80 seats and JD-S 28. The overall voter turnout then was 64.91 per cent. (ANI)