New Delhi, March 29
The Assembly elections in Karnataka will be held in a single phase on May 10 and the counting of votes on May 13, the Election Commission announced today, setting the stage for a key electoral contest between the BJP and Congress ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha showdown.
The Janata Dal (Secular) is the third major player in the state, which has a 224-member Assembly. The BJP currently has 119 seats, followed by the Congress with 75. The JD (S) has 28 MLAs, while two seats are vacant.
Announcing the schedule for the polls at a press conference convened by the ECI here, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the notification for the elections would be issued on April 13 and the last date for filing nomination papers would be April 20. The nomination papers would be scrutinised on April 21 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations was April 24.
Byelection to 5 seats
1 LS seat: Jalandhar
4 Assembly seats: Jharsuguda in Odisha, Chhanbey and Suar in UP & Sohiong in Meghalaya
Indicating that the poll panel was trying to address the apathy among the urban voters, the CEC said the elections had been scheduled on a Wednesday, and not on a Monday or Friday. “People can take a day off and have a long weekend. But by holding the poll on Wednesday, this possibility has been reduced,” he said.
The ruling BJP and the Congress have already begun spirited campaigns for the elections.
The Model Code of Conduct kicked in on Wednesday with the announcement of the election. But strict vigil was ensured even earlier on the Commission’s directions during review meetings with enforcement agencies, Kumar said, adding that more than Rs 80 crore has been seized so far.
Seeking to ensure inclusion and participation in the poll, 100 per cent enrolment of the eligible Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in Karnataka was being ensured, the CEC said.
Forty “ethnic polling stations” will be set up for PVTGs. Special emphasis is being laid on the participation of the third gender in the election process, he said.
Referring to “urban apathy”, Kumar said in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, nine of the top 20 low voter turnout constituencies were urban. This trend was also noticed in the recently held Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections in 2022. There are 5.21 crore voters in the state, and 58,282 polling stations will be set up. The average voter per polling station is pegged at 883. Fifty per cent of the polling stations will have webcasting facility. A total of 1,320 polling stations will be managed by women officials.
Meanwhile, the ECI also announced the schedule for the byelection to Punjab’s Jalandhar parliamentary constituency and four Assembly segments in UP, Odisha and Meghalaya for which voting will take place on May 10 and the counting will be on May 13.
The Assembly seats which will go to the polls include Jharsuguda in Odisha, Chhanbey and Suar in Uttar Pradesh and Sohiong in Meghalaya.
The Jalandhar parliamentary constituency fell vacant following the death of Congress MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary, 76, in January this year following a heart attack while taking part in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
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