Record voter turnout sets up Karnataka election results for a photo finish

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Some 70 per cent voters exercised their franchise for Karnataka Assembly polls on Saturday, the Election Commission said here.

Earlier in the day, the chief ministerial candidate of the JD-S, H.D. Kumaraswamy, met Nirmalanandanatha Mahaswami of Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Math in Jayanagar amidst polling for the Karnataka Assembly. JD (S) chief HD Deve Gowda has already shunned BJP by giving them a clear no-no for a possible tie-up, given the bad history between the two parties. The support of Janata Dal Secular of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, the polls have predicted, will be crucial for government formation by either party.

BS Yeddyurappa, the CM candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rejected Siddaramaiah's claim stating that the Karnataka CM knows he is "losing miserably". The gains for BJP seems to be huge given the fact that in 2013 the Congress figure was 122 followed by BJP at 40 and JD (S) 40 and KJP and others 22. However, before the formal announcement of the results, several agencies conducted exit polls, predicting the outcome.

However, most political analysts this paper spoke to say Prime Minister Narendra Modi's whistle-stop tour of the State during the last days of the campaign has certainly influenced the voters.

The BJP leader, while reacting to Siddaramaiah's statement on calling him "mentally disturbed" added that he was making such statements because he would lose the Chamundeshwari and Badami seats where the Karnataka Chief Minister is contesting from.

But Siddaramaiah - the first Karnataka chief minister to complete a full term in three decades - dismissed the exit polls, saying these are "entertainment".

Only the average of seats predicted by two surveys showed any party reaching halfway mark - and one survey predicted this for the Congress, another predicted it for the BJP.

As many as four Exit Polls - have predicted that BJP, whose strength was reduced to mere 40 largely owing to split after Mr Yeddyurappa had walked out of the party, will win more than 100 seats out of 222 seats for which polling took place on Saturday.

Siddharamaiah had successfully steered the Congress providing a stable Government for five years from 2013 to 2018 in Karnataka, which has in the past seen repeated changes of Chief Ministers since 1978. "We are coming back", he said.

Tight security arrangements were made to ensure smooth and peaceful single-phase polling in 222 constituencies, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 26 in Bengaluru. He maintained that the Congress would secure absolute majority. Karnataka has an electorate of over 4.97 crore, including 2.52 crore men and 2.45 crore women.

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