The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday announced that the Elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly will be held on May 12 and the results will be declared on May 15, 2018, with the Model Code of Conduct coming into effect immediately.
The EC also said that April 24 will be the last date to file nominations and April 27 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidature.
The southern state is currently ruled by the Congress. In the upcoming elections, 224 seats are up for grabs. The term of the current Assembly ends May 28.
The announcement of election dates today created a controversy as the BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted the dates before the official announcement. The Election Commission said they “will look into leaks” on dates.
With this, the battleground for the political battle and the attention now shifts from the east (three Northeastern states had polls in February) and north (by-polls were held in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in March) to the south.
However, it’s not just the demographic shift, it is the results of the Karnataka assembly elections which will determine the political balance of power for 2019 and that makes the battleground of Bengaluru all more important.
The elections are likely to be a three-way fight between Congress, BJP and JDS.
For the Congress, incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah remains the candidate for the top post. The BJP meanwhile has pitched a former chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa, as its candidate for chief minister.
For the Congress, winning is imperative in the face of its diminished presence in most other states. Since coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the BJP has overthrown them in Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Manipur, thereby leaving Congress with only two major Indian states: Karnataka and Punjab.
For the BJP, Bengaluru matters precisely because it is central to the ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ political project. It matters so that the party does not have much political or financial cushion to take on the BJP and will help BJP break the older image of being just a North Indian party.
As 2019 inches closer, the Karnataka assembly elections not only holds the future of its citizens but will also decide the fate of the two major national parties.