The 72.36% turnout in Saturday’s Karnataka Assembly elections is new record for the State, surpassing the 71.90% polling 40 years ago in 1978. The 2013 Assembly polls recorded a turnout of 71.45%.
However, the low voter turnout in the 28 Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru city has caused concern in the Election Commission. The turnout in different constituencies remained in the range of 48% to 60%.
Reading the numbers
The high voter turnout has triggered a political debate even as both the ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that it was an indication of the voters’ mood in their favour.
While the Congress is interpreting the high turnout as demonstration of support for its administration, the BJP reads the numbers as an urge for a change.
Though several exit polls have predicted a hung Assembly, the three major political parties — the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (S) —have rubbished them. While the Congress and the BJP vociferously claim that they would form the government on their own, the JD(S) has maintained that it would get many more seats than forecast by the exit polls.
The Chief Minister even tweeted asking party supporters not to worry about exit polls. “So, Dear party workers, supporters & well wishers, don’t worry about exit polls. Relax & enjoy your weekend. Exit opinion polls are entertainment for the next 2 days,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in Chamundeshwari constituency, one of the two seats from where he contested, Mr Siddaramaiah said, “This will be my last election.”
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A Dalit CM?
To a question on the possibility of a Dalit Chief Minister, he said, “It is fine if the party decides to have a Dalit Chief Minister.” However, he made a strong pitch for retaining the top post, emphasising the absence of dissidence in the party during his five-year tenure at the helm.
“There is no dissatisfaction among the Party MLAs,” he said, recalling that dissidence had affected the regimes of his predecessors like D. Devaraj Urs, Veerendra Patil, S. Bangarappa, and M. Veerappa Moily.
Mr. Siddaramaiah also ruled out the possibility of shifting to national politics. Responding to a question on a possible move if the party high command wanted him to play a larger role ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls, he said, “I will not go to national politics. I will restrict myself to Karnataka politics.”
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G. Parameshwara meanwhile, observed that there were a dozen of aspirants for the top post, including himself, and ultimately the Congress Legislature Party would elect its leader and the party high command would take a final decision.
BSY heads to Delhi
BJP State president and chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa maintained that the party was bound to form the government on its own and that he would visit New Delhi on Monday, ahead of counting on May 15, to consult central leaders on the process of government formation.
JD(S) State president H.D. Kumaraswamy left for Singapore, along with his son Nikhil, on Sunday morning.
He is expected to return to Bengaluru on Tuesday morning.