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Karnataka elections: 70% voter turnout, exit polls predict hung assembly

The voter turnout in Karnataka elections is likely to go up as voters were seen in queue at certain polling stations even after 6pm, says Election Commission. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: The polling for Karnataka elections on Saturday ended with 67% voter turnout as of 6pm, a subdued count when compared to 71.45% in 2013, signalling little to suggest a desire for change in the voter’s mind. The final numbers are still not out, but according to the chief electoral officer, it is likely to go beyond 70%.

The final polling percentage is expected by Sunday.

Soon after polling ended, most exit polls predicted a hung assembly, which if turns out to be correct, would prolong the formation of a government in Karnataka, a state which has not voted the same party into power since 1985.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said that there was no possibility of a hung assembly. “I have said it with such confidence for the last six months.A hung assembly is not possible at all. We will get a clear majority,” Siddaramaiah said in Mysuru, reacting to the Karnataka exit polls.

With one assembly poll postponed and another countermanded, 222 of the 224 seats went to the polls on Saturday, thereby bringing the simple majority number to 112.

If the Karnataka exit polls are true, the election results are headed for a photo finish as there is no big wave in favour or against both the Congress and the BJP.

The Karnataka elections could define the fortunes of Congress and the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha. It is one of the only few states where the grand old party is in power. The polls are also a test of popularity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ramanagara district recorded the highest voter turnout with 80% while Bengaluru averaged around 50%, thus maintaining its record of polling one of the least votes and bringing down the state average.

Karnataka chief electoral officer Sanjiv Kumar said that there would be fresh polling at Lottegollahalli, of Hebbal constituency in Bengaluru on 14 May after complaints that the electronic voting machine (EVM) malfunctioned. He said that out of the 64,297 ballot units for Karnataka elections, 212 units malfunctioned. Out of the 57,782 control units, 340 units malfunctioned and out of 57,786 VVPATs, 698 malfunctioned.

There were also reports of group clashes, which the CEO dismissed as minor skirmishes.

A 56-year-old man from Belthangady (Dakshina Kannada) died of a heart attack while at the polling station and one woman from Haveri district tried to immolate herself due to the lack of development, Kumar said.

The high-stakes Karnataka elections, that saw all parties level corruption allegations against each other, saw seizures of over Rs152 crore worth of cash, liquor, gold, home appliances and other valuables being seized. Kumar added that there were 26 cases of paid news, off which 15 have been confirmed.

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