Bangalore, May 4: Karnataka is set to go to the polls on Sunday. This election is a fierce battle in a highly fragmented polity and its outcome will prove crucial for a number of important political players of the country in the days ahead, particularly the two national parties. While the Karnataka poll is important for a tainted Congress to regain some ground before the next Lok sabha polls, it is also significant for the BJP to ensure that it doesn't slide further after the loss in Himachal Pradesh and the debacle in Jharkhand.
This election will also be important for Narendra Modi, the man whom the saffron party is trying to project as its poster boy for the next big polls and B S Yeddyurappa, the man who left the BJP to join the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP). The fate of the Janata Dal (Secular) will also bank on this election to a great extent.
Here is some key information about the Karnataka assembly elections, 2013:
Total number seats: 224 (Halfway mark: 113) Polls will be held in 223 seats for poll in Periyapatna had been postponed till May 28 owing to the death of the BJP candidate.
Reserved for SCs: 36
Reserved for STs: 15
Total candidates: 2,940
Polling stations: 52,000 (10,000 hyper-sensitive and 14,000 sensitive)
Electronic voting machines: 65,000
Voting time: 7 am to 6 pm
Total voters: 4.18 crore
Counting on: May 8
Tenure of current assembly ends on: June 3
Current ruling party: BJP (It had won 110 seats in the 2008 polls)
Main parties in fray: BJP, Congress, JD(S), KJP
Main contenders in this year's poll: Jagadish Shettar (BJP), Siddaramaiah (Congress), G Parameshwar (Congress), H D Kumaraswamy (JDS), B S Yeddyurappa (KJP), B Sriramulu (BSR Congress)
Key election issues:
Anti-incumbency sentiments against a state government accused in corruption charges, departure of Yeddyurappa, illegal mining scam, illegal land denotification scam, BPL card scandal, moral policing in coastal Karnataka.
Lingayats (21%) and Vokkaligas (18%) are the dominant castes in Karnataka, besides the backward classes (40%) who dominate the rural areas. Muslims constitute 12% of the electorate. The BJP's Lingayat votebank will be at stake owing to BSY's exit. The Vokkaligas mainly back the JD(S) but that party is mainly based in southern and coastal Karnataka and Mysore region.
Bellary: The mining region will see a battle between the BJP, Congress and BSR Congess.
Hubli-Dharwad Central: Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar will seek a re-election here.
Shikaripur: BSY's constituency
Ramnagar: Former chief minister of Karnataka and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy's constituency.
Channapatana: H D Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha is contesting from this seat on the JD(s)'s ticket.
What pre-election surveys say:
They all favour a simple majority for the Congress, which is out of power since 2006. According to one survey, the Congress is set to get 117-129 seats while the BJP will get a paltry 39-49 seats. The KJP is expected to spoil the saffron party's vote share and can bag 14-22 seats. Another survey projects 118 seats for the Congress and 52 for the BJP.