Karnataka will vote for a new government on May 10. Election to the 224-member Assembly will take place in a single phase. The results will be declared on May 13. The term of the Karnataka Assembly ends on May 24.
A party needs to win at least 113 seats to form a government in Karnataka. Of the total 224 seats, 36 seats are reserved for scheduled castes and 15 for scheduled tribes.
Currently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 119 MLAs, the Congress has 75 and the Janata Dal (Secualr) (JD(S)) has 28 seats.
Let's take a look at all the key things you need to know about the Karnataka elections.
Q) Which political party is currently in power in Karnataka?
- The BJP is currently the ruling party in Karnataka with 119 MLAs
Q) How many Assembly seats are there in Karnataka?
- Karnataka has 224 Assembly seats to which candidates are directly elected by the people.
Q) How many seats does Karnataka account for in Parliament?
- Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats and 12 Rajya Sabha seats.
Q) How many seats are reserved for SCs and STs?
- There are 36 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and 15 reserved for Scheduled Tribes among the 224 Assembly seats in the Karnataka elections.
Q) How many voters are registered in Karnataka?
- Karnataka has 52,411,557 electors, of which 52,363,948 are general electors and 47,609 are service voters, according to the latest electoral roll data.
Q) Major parties contesting in the Karnataka Assembly elections?
- The Karnataka elections are touted to be a three-cornered contest among Congress, BJP, and JD(S).
Other parties like Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), and Social Democratic Party of India (the political wing of banned PFI) have also fielded their candidates from select seats.
Q) What are the key issues in the upcoming elections in Karnataka?
- The Congress is riding on corruption as the main theme, focusing on 'scams' and a 40 per cent commission charge by a contractors' body.
The BJP, on the other hand, has sought to counter the narrative by highlighting graft in previous Congress regimes both at the Centre and the state.
Apart from this, the state's decision to do away with 4 per cent reservation for Muslims under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota, and distributing it equally among the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities, while placing Muslims under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, and introduction of internal reservation for different Dalit communities under Scheduled Caste (SC) category are also bound to have an effect.
Price rise will be another key issue that will dominate voting.
Q) How important are the Lingayats?
- Lingayats are believed to be the state’s single largest community, accounting for nearly 17 per cent of the total population, and are concentrated primarily in North and Central Karnataka districts.
Until the 1990s, the Lingayats, followers of Basavanna, a social reformer, voted overwhelmingly for the Congress. In 1989, it formed the government in the state with the largest majority ever, 179 out of the 224 seats in the Assembly, because of the Lingayat votes mobilised by Veerendra Patil.
The dismissal of Patil by then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 is said to have shifted the Lingayats away from the Congress towards the BJP. This also resulted in the rise of BS Yediyurappa as the community’s face in the BJP. He remains its most popular leader, despite alleged attempts to sideline him.
Congress is also trying to woo the Lingayat community with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leading the outreach by visiting important pilgrimage sites for Lingayats, prominent mutts, and, most recently, participating in Basava Jayanti celebrations.
Q) What about the Vokkaligas?
- They are said to be the second-largest community in the state and have historically voted either for the JD(S) or Congress. Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda and Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar are from the community.
Several Vokkaliga heartland constituencies are strongholds for the JD(S) and Congress, and the BJP has increased its efforts to make inroads in the region during the upcoming election.
Q) Probable Karnataka CM faces
- The BJP, like the Congress, has yet to declare a CM face. However, in Congress, the race is largely considered to be between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah — both of whom have a strong group of loyalist party leaders rallying behind them.
Q) When was the last Karnataka Assembly election held?
- Karnataka's last assembly elections were held in May 2018. The results were declared on May 15, 2018, and the JD(S) formed a coalition government with Congress. Later, they lost the majority and BJP formed the government.
Q) What was the voter turnout in the 2018 Karnataka Assembly election?
- With 72.13 per cent of total registered voters in the state exercising their right to vote, the 2018 Karnataka elections saw the highest voter turnout since 1952 assembly polls.
Q) What happened in the Karnataka Assembly election in 2018?
-Congress, led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, contested the election seeking a second term in office, while the BJP sought to return to power in the state after a gap of five years. The JD(S) was the third major party in the election.
In the final result, no single party was able to secure a majority. The BJP emerged as the single-largest party, with 104 seats, but fell short of the halfway mark of 112. The INC won 78 seats and the JDS won 37 seats.
After several rounds of negotiations, the JDS agreed to support the Congress party to form a coalition government, with HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS being sworn in as the chief minister on May 23, 2018.
Q) How did the BJP reclaim power in Karnataka?
- The Congress-JD(S) coalition government lasted 14 months before 16 of their legislators resigned in two days and two independent MLAs switched their support to BJP, reducing the house majority to 105.
With the ruling coalition left with the support of 101 MLAs and the opposition BJP with 107, Kumarasamy lost the trust vote and resigned. BS Yediyurappa took oath as the Karnataka CM on July 26, 2019.