New Delhi: Election to the Karnataka assembly will be held on 5 May and votes will be counted on 8 May, the Election Commission (EC) said, setting the stage for a contest between the country’s main parties ahead of national polls that are scheduled for 2014.
The term of the 224-member state assembly expires on 3 June. While 36 out of the 224 seats are reserved for scheduled castes (SC), 15 are reserved for scheduled tribes (ST).
“Paid news will merit very close attention and monitoring by the Commission,” V.S. Sampath, chief election commissioner, told reporters at a media briefing in the national capital on Tuesday. “Based on the assessment of ground situation, Central Police Forces and State Armed Police drawn from other states will also be deployed during the elections.”
The model code of conduct has become applicable with immediate effect with the announcement of the election date. There are a total of 41.88 million registered electors in the state.
The election date for the state was decided after taking into considerations factors including the climatic conditions, academic calendars, festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the state and availability of Central police forces, according to the EC.
Political parties have already begun the process of selecting candidates for the assembly elections. The Congress party had swept the urban local body elections earlier this month.
The party has received 2,300 applications for the 224 assembly seats, according to a Congress party official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The list includes approximately 30 former and sitting legislators from BJP and Janata Dal (Secular), the official said.
The list of candidates will be placed before the party’s central election committee headed by former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. The candidates have been shortlisted by four divisional-level committees, headed by B.K. Hariprasad (north Karnataka), B. Janardhana Poojary (Bangalore), S.R. Patil (Bombay-Karnataka region), and N. Dharam Singh (south Karnataka).
For the ruling BJP, the fallout of former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa leaving the party has severely weakened the party’s strength. At a meeting of the state party unit on Sunday, the party decided that it would focus on retaining its strength in north Karnataka and coastal Karnataka, where it has been traditionally strong. However, the party is still not clear candidates who will cross over to Yeddyurappa’s newly formed Karnataka Janata Party.
The Janata Dal (S) announced that it would release the list of candidates on Saturday. “We’ve received over 800 applications from across the state”, said JD(S) state president H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Meanwhile, the EC has said it would also pay special attention for the safety of SC/ST voters. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 would be invoked if a SC or ST voter is prevented from voting.
While the issue of notification of the starting date of nominations will be on 10 April, the last day for filing nominations and withdrawal of candidature is 17 and 20 April, respectively. The scrutiny of nominations would be held on 18 April, Sampath said.