Assembly elections in Karnataka, which is one of the last bastions of Congress party, will be held in a single phase on May 12 and the counting of votes will take place on May 15, the Election Commission of India (its headquarters pictured) announced on Tuesday. The model code of conduct comes into force immediately. Congress, which rules the state, is projecting the incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah as its leader while rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has picked former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa as its leader. The term of the 224-member assembly expires on May 28. The Congress currently holds 122 seats in the assembly against 43 by BJP. Asked why BJP’s IT Cell head Amit Malviya posted the Karnataka poll schedule on social media ahead of the official announcement, Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat said appropriate action will be taken against those behind the information leak. Congress has denied ant-incumbency in the state and is confident of retaining power. In a smart move, the Siddaramaiah-led government recently proposed granting separate religious minority status to Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat communities which account for nearly 17% of the state’s population. A pre-poll survey conducted by Gurugram-based C fore between March 1 and March 25 covering 22,357 voters in 154 assembly constituencies predicted Congress will win 126 seats with a 46% vote share. BJP is expected to win 70 seats while Janata Dal (Secular) led by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda may be pushed to third position by winning just 27 seats. Early this month, stirring Kannadiga pride, the Siddaramaiah government decided to have a separate state flag. This may further boost his party’s chances of winning the elections.
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