As voters queue up to exercise their franchise for electing the 15h Karnataka Assembly at 07:00 hrs on Saturday the question that is looming large is whether Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will break the voodoo and get a second term for the Congress.
For over four decades the political fortunes of the dominant players in the electoral battle in Karnataka had fluctuated and no party had been able to return to power for a successive term since 1978 when late D Devaraj Urs was voted back to power. But whether the Congress would emulate the feat after decades of political turmoil that saw the fortunes of Congress, Janata Parivar and the BJP fluctuating wildly and tall leaders bit the dust as Kannadigas with rich political awareness changed rulers of the state punishing ruthlessly the non performers.
But will Mr Siddaramaiah who did not feel any anti-incumbency during his five full year of rule can turn the tide with a positive swing in his favour would be decided between 07:00 and 18:00 hrs tomorrow as a little over five crore electorate will exercise their franchise in nearly 58,000 polling booths in 223 of the 224 constituencies that will go to polls.
The political fortune of as many as 2636 candidates was at stake with the major contesting political parties, Congress and the BJP in the fray in 221 and 223 constituencies respectively. The Janata Dal (Secular) which had been a kingmaker in the past is in the fray in 200 constituencies with its alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party contesting for 18 seats. The left parties that had not any major dent and had been allying either with the JD(S) or the Congress in earlier elections is contesting on their own, with the CPI(M) in the fry in 19 constituencies and the CPI in two. The National Congress Party, an insignificant player has candidates in 14 constituencies with candidates of registered unrecognised parties numbering 793 and Independents totaling 1106. There are 219 women candidates in the fray.
Polling in Jayanagar Constituency in the city which had 19 candidates had been countermanded following the demise of BJP candidate B N Vijayakumar. A decision in holding polling in Rajarajeshwari Nagar is yet to be taken by the Election Commission following large-scale unearthing of Voter ID Cards from a premises and prima face case had been established that an attempt was being made to induce a section of the voters in the constituency. A FIR of criminal conspiracy and attempt to entice voters had been filed against 14 people including constituency Congress Candidate and sitting member Muniratna.
Among the 58000 poling booths across the State over 21,000 have been declared critical and extra security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polls.
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer Sanjivkumar said all poll arrangements have been made with over 365,000 personnel involved in this mammoth exercise.