With the results of the ballot counting of the Karnataka Assembly elections a few hours away, early polls suggest a sweeping win for the Opposition Congress against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the battle for supremacy in the state.
Counting began at 8 am on Wednesday when the fate of 2,940 candidates in 223 Assembly segments will be decided. Early trends showed the two parties in a neck-to-neck race. At around 10 am, Congress led with more than 93 seats against BJP's count of 41. The Janata Dal (Secular) and and the BS Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) were left behind.
The majority mark in the 224 member assembly is 113. Congress needs to cross its seat tally of at least 100 to return to power following an eight-year long hiatus. In the previous state elections, BJP won 110 seats and formed a coalition with the support of independents.
Political pundits had earlier predicted Congress to have a clear edge over BJP on Wednesday's crucial vote count, taking into account former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa's pullout from BJP to form his KJP, reducing the coalition to a minority, and the Congress' relentless efforts to shed light on BJP's shoddy past and instability in the southern state. During its five years of chaotic power, BJP was plagued by a leadership crisis: there have been three chief ministers - a result of a string of corruption scandals and indifferences within the party.
Despite this, BJP is fighting against all odds to remain the ruling power. Before the counting of votes, the party expressed confidence of getting the maximum number of seats and forming the government under the leadership of Jagadish Shettar.
The polling took place in 224 assembly constituencies across the state, out of which the polling of the Periyapatna assembly segment in Mysore district will take place later on 28 May due to BJP candidate Sannamoge Gowda's demise on 29 April.