Karnataka election campaign ends, stage set for polling on 10 May

A 40-day-long campaign for the Karnataka polls closed on Monday, setting the stage for the high-stakes May 10 assembly elections where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will hope to defend the only southern state under its control from challengers Congress and Janata Dal (Secular).

The BJP’s campaign was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed 21 rallies spanning the state, including a late blitz in state capital Bengaluru, where he addressed several meetings and held two road shows over the weekend.

The Congress, in contrast, ran an equally aggressive but more local campaign led by former chief minister Siddaramaiah and state unit chief DK Shivakumar. The regional JD(S) relied on the charisma and ground connect of its patriarch, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda.

The final day of campaigning saw road shows and public events by leaders of all three parties.

While chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and former CM BS Yediyurappa turned out for the BJP, former chief minister Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar, and leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held public meetings for the Congress.

The JD(S) too pulled out the big guns on Monday, with Deve Gowda and former CM HD Kumaraswamy campaigning for the party.

The fates of 2,613 candidates will be decided across 224 seats by over 52 million voters. The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced that it had seized ₹388 crore since March 1, as compared to the ₹83 crore in 2018.

Karnataka chief electoral officer Manoj Kumar Meena said protocols are in place to deploy police personnel across the state. Vulnerable polling stations will be monitored online, he said.

The results in Karnataka, the biggest state to go to the polls in 2023 till now, will also pave the road to the 2024 general elections.